Splitting the Premier League – A positive step or a daft idea?


As another season of the Premier League unfolds, and the usual pattern emerges with three leagues in one…The top 6, the middle 4 and the 10 clubs scrapping to stay above the drop zone. This had lead to the re-emergence of a long standing debate about splitting the league up into mini divisions at a certain stage of the season.

I for one am a fan of this idea. What it would essentially mean is that for the final 12 games or so, the top 6 teams would only play each other, the bottom  6 would compete for survival and the middle tier would battle for bragging rights. I do realise that under this system the battle for the middle positions would not be too exciting, but the rest of it….its the future.

Can you imagine 10 weeks of the season in which the top 6 battle it out week after week? The rivalries, the drama, knowing that every point is vital to keep pace. The league would tighten up as teams would be dropping points and not steam rolling over lowly rivals. Ticket demand for Man City v Man Utd would certainly exceed Man City vs Cardiff and TV viewers would lap it up!

The same for the Bottom 6 clubs…..Look at Huddersfield, getting cut adrift in the season with games away to the big boys to come. But imagine if they knew their last 10 games would be against fellow rivals? The drama would begin….Constant games week after week of teams knowing that a loss could edge them closer to relegation whereas a win would inch them to another season of Premier League glory…..all makes for better drama than constant 11 men behind the ball displays against teams they are fully and rightly expected to, and often do, loose against! Imagine also how it would impact Betting Deals for EPL and Championship clubs!

I know what you are going to say? Why fix something that is more popular than ever and is not broken? Well the argument I would give you is that if an idea exists that could increase Premier League viewership, attendances and drama….then why not take advantage of it?

Will Juventus win Serie A again next season?

Serie A is a very entertaining and exciting domestic league, if you are not challenging for the title. The relegation battle, fight for the Europa League spots and the contest to finish in the Champions League places are hugely enthralling. However, when it comes to the Scudetto, it has pretty much been a one-horse race.

Juventus have won Serie A for the past eight seasons, as the Bianconeri have established themselves as the team to beat in Italy. Not only do Juve play the best football in the country, but they also dominate matches and pretty much steamroll every team that stand in their way. This season, at one stage, it looked like Napoli were going to give them a run for their money, but Juventus ended up winning the championship by 11 points.

A lot could happen this summer during the transfer window, but at this point in time, it is hard to see anyone aside from Juventus winning the Serie A title during the 2019-20 campaign. The Turin giants have the best squad in Serie A, and in Cristiano Ronaldo, they have one of the greatest ever goalscorers. Then, there are midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira, forward Paulo Dybala as well as defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. There is no doubt that Juventus will be favourites for the Serie A betting outright markets for the upcoming season

There is one club who will be determined to put an end to Juventus’s winning run who also have the resources and personnel to challenge them, and that is Inter Milan. While Juventus are still looking for a new manager following the departure of Massimiliano Allegri, Inter have appointed Antonio Conte as their boss. It was Conte who started the Bianconeri’s total domination of Italian football, and perhaps it will be Conte who will put an end to it.

Inter have not been great in recent years, but the 2010 Champions League winners are back in Europe’s premier club competition after finishing fourth in Serie A this season. Conte would not have taken charge of Inter had he not been given assurances of the club’s transfer budget and had they not had grand plans for the future. Inter’s appointment of Conte as their manager suggests that the Milanese club mean business. Players such as Mauro Icardi, Milan Skriniar, Radja Nainggolan and Ivan Perisic are superb footballers, and if Inter are able to bolster their squad this summer, then there could be a genuine title challenge on.

Elsewhere, Napoli will continue to challenge for the title, although one suspects that the Neapolitan club will be happy to finish in the top four yet again. In recent years, following the slide down the table of Inter Milan and AC Milan, it is Napoli who have taken upon themselves to give a fight to Juventus, but they always seem to fall short, and next season is unlikely to be any different.

2018/19 Champions League Final

As another domestic season draws to a close, we look ahead to what feels like a domestic game. An all English Champions League Final. In a season in which the quality of the top flight of English football has been so high, it is only fitting that the elite competition in Europe is contested by two of the teams who finished in the Top 3 of the Premier League.

Liverpool will look to curb the disappointment of the highest ever points total to end up only second in the Premier League, as well as last years Champions League final defeat, and overcome Tottenham Hotspur who have produced some outstanding performances to reach the final in a year in which they never seriously contended for the Premier League crown.

What will happen on June 1st? Will we see a classic attack of free flowing football or a cagey defensive affair? Will Salah and Ali show up or will someone unexpected steal the show? There is not long to find out…Let us take a look at a few key facts about this tie…

  • Spurs have never reached this stage of the competition before and face Liverpool, 5 times winners and last season runners up
  • Both teams came back from unprecedented levels in the Semi Finals to reach this stage
  • This will be the 7th Champions League Final to be contested by clubs from the same country and the second English affair.  Spanish clubs have most regularly appeared in these domestic final
  • The last All English affair was 11 years ago when Manchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties in the rain soaked city of Moscow
  • Spurs become the 8th English club to appear in a European Cup Final…more than any other country
  • This is the 5th final to have taken place in Madrid, the last being in 2010
  • In total Spurs have lost 79 times to Liverpool in 170 games with 43 draws
  • Only 22 teams have won the European Cup….Spurs would make it 23
  • Spurs have a good European pedigree outside of the Champions League and were the first English winners of the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup
  • Spurs would indeed become only the 5th club to have won the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Cup Winners Cup if they triumphed in Madrid
  • Liverpool have won 5 of 8 European Finals
  • Liverpool have reached back to European Finals on 2 previous occasions and have always won at least one of them
  • Spurs have never ever won a game in Spain
  • Liverpool have lost on 4 of their previous 5 trips to Spain
  • The sides previously met in the Semi Final stage of the 1973 UEFA Cup when Liverpool overcame Spurs on away goals
  • In the last 14 meetings between the two sides, Spurs have beaten Liverpool only once
  • Liverpool won 2-1 on both occasions that the two sides met in this years Premier League
  • The sides met in a domestic final in 1982 when Liverpool won 3-1

I hope that has got your appetite wet for what should be a titanic and historic clash in Madrid tomorrow night!

The leading contenders for PFA Player of the Year award 2019

As one of the most exciting Premier League seasons in recent memory comes to a thrilling climax, it’s almost time to recognise the players who have lit up England’s elite throughout 2018/19. This year, football fans have been treated to some stunning individual performances and there’s some truly talented footballers who are in the reckoning for the PFA Player of the Year award.

Before we have a look at the frontrunners, don’t forget to bet on Premier League winner as Manchester City and Liverpool engage in a two-horse race for the title, with the Citizens leading the way at 4/5 currently. If you think the Reds will end their Premier League hoodoo, you can back Jurgen Klopp’s men at evens.

Virgil van Dijk @1/4

If Liverpool are to secure their first ever Premier League success, much will be owed to the herculean displays of Virgil van Dijk. The Dutch centre-back has been nothing short of class throughout the whole campaign, and is yet to be successfully dribbled past in the last 12 months. The Reds paid a world-record fee for Van Dijk in January 2018 and he has absolutely revolutionised a previously leaky defence. The former Southampton star has transformed the Merseysiders into genuine title contenders and it’ll be something of a surprise if he doesn’t win.

Raheem Sterling @11/4

If Van Dijk is unsuccessful, then it’ll likely be due to the continued excellence of City’s Raheem Sterling. The 24-year-old has enjoyed a stellar campaign to date and has 17 goals and 11 assists to his name, and his vast improvement hasn’t gone unnoticed. Sterling’s end product over the past two years has seen him become one of the league’s best players, and he’s certainly one of City’s most valuable assets. Manager Pep Guardiola has really transformed the England star and it would be hard to begrudge Sterling of the win.

Sergio Aguero @16/1

It still seems a travesty that City’s all-time record goal scorer hasn’t picked up the award, but Sergio Aguero continues to exercise his right as one of world football’s most exciting strikers. Since signing in 2011, the Argentine superstar has recorded 162 Premier League goals of which 19 were scored this season. In February, Aguero broke the record for most league hat-tricks when he scored consecutive trebles against Arsenal and Chelsea – bringing his total to 11. It’ll be hard for Aguero to pip the two favourites but if he continues to bang in the goals, his 16/1 price provides plenty of value.

Sadio Mane @25/1

Although much of the focus would have been on Mohammed Salah this season, Sadio Mane has taken over the reins and has proven himself as Liverpool’s main goal threat. The Senegalese winger-come-attacker has demonstrated his importance to Klopp’s men time and time again, and his goal and assist return this year has seen him listed as one of the main contenders. Mane’s slick style of play and brilliant attacking prowess have made him a nightmare for Premier League defenders, and he’s averaged a goal every 151 minutes this season.

Bernardo Silva @50/1

Statistics-wise, Bernardo Silva looks a questionable frontrunner for the PFA Player of the Year award but watching him strut his stuff at the Etihad suggests otherwise. Six goals and eight assists is hardly poor, but it isn’t on the same level as some of the other nominees but Silva’s all-round play is something to admire. Cool, calm and collected, Silva has proven to be a very important cog in the City juggernaut and he has gained a whole host of admirers this season and rightfully so; and could even be a natural replacement for namesake David. At 24, Silva has his best years ahead of him and he has certainly cemented a place in Guardiola’s starting XI. 

Eden Hazard @ 50/1

It’s hard to believe that Eden Hazard is all the way out at 50/1 after the season he has had, but he’ll provide excellent value for money for those who may be tempted. The Belgian winger has 16 goals to his name currently, the joint best since he signed for Chelsea in 2012. Alongside his 12 Premier League assists, it really has been Hazard’s strongest campaign and it’s no surprise that Real Madrid have demonstrated a keen interest. More often than not, Hazard is the main attacking threat and his sheer pace and close-knit dribbling make him one of the best players in the world. It’s hard to see Hazard winning but if he does, it’ll be his second award after winning in 2015.

Fernandinho and Mo Salah also at 50/1.

Facts About Manchester United


Everyone who watches soccer has heard about Manchester United. This is because this is part of the most popular teams in the world. Furthermore, with a history that dates back to the 1800, it would be a shock if you did not know them. We are sure that even those who do not watch soccer have surely heard about the Red Devils and the betting odds that come with the team. However as much as you might know about the team, allow us to give a few facts about Man United that will blow your mind away. 

Shocking Facts About Manchester United

The Teams Managers

Man United has a very long and winding history as we have mentioned about. And in that history, they have had 22 team managers. The amazing fact is from those 22 team mangers, Manchester United have only had 2 non-British managers. These two were Louis Van Gal and Jose Mourinho. 

The Goal Scorer

In the history of the UEFA, there have been many top scorers. With Ronaldo being among the names of the top goal scorers. What you might not have known was that Wane Rooney is the highest goal scorer. An Englishman in the league with an amazing 29 goals to brag about. 

We do know that the team features in the EU Sports FIFA game, what we do not know is if there are any online casino games in honour of this team. However with such a long history, there must be an online casino game at houseofjack that has the Red Devils, don’t you think so?

Their Name

We all know the name of the team is Manchester United, and we are also ware of their nickname, the Red Devils. Allow to know tell you were the nickname from. The team was first known as Newton Health and renamed to Manchester United in 1902. As for their nickname, under the management of Sir Matt Burly, United took the name from Red Devil from Salford rugby club. A club in France who were also known for their love of red jerseys. 

A day in the Life of a Manchester United Fan

Ole


The life of a soccer fan is one that is not easy. It is full pain, anger, relief and joy. However all these emotions have nothing to do the fan, but everything to do with the team that they support. On that note, allow us to take a few minutes to look at a day in the life of a typical Manchester United Fan.

The Emotions

Each and every soccer fan’s day is so full of emotion. All these emotions are those that they fail to control. On lookers may wonder what is troubling a Man United fan only to find out they are worried about the outcome of the next game. The emotions that fans a go through, words cannot even express. Even the beloved online gambling games cannot comfort a Red Devils fan who is distraught. When their team losses, they lose with it and when it wins, they rejoice with it. All this for the love of Manchester United. 

The dedication

What may seem to many as a day too hot or as a day too cold, to Manchester United fan, it is just another day. This is especially true if there is a match to be played. Be it in the rain, be it in the sun, if there is a game, they will be there. Despite the cost, a soccer fan is one who is dedicated to their team will always make sure that they watch them play. 

The lessons

According to sports betting and casino games reviewers at www.bestusaonlinecasinos.com, they say each and every soccer match comes with several lessons. These lesson for both the player and the fans. For the Manchester United players, they have learnt that they should never give up. By watching their favourite fall and rise to challenge countless times, they too have taken this lesson in their day to lives. Troubles may come their way, but just like the Red Devils, they will take each challenge as it comes. 

That being said, a day in the life of a Manchester United fan is one that you will never be able to understand. The only way that you will be understand all they go through is to be a Manchester United fan yourself. 

What makes a good Football Quiz App?


The app stores are littered with Football Apps and one subject that comes up time and time again are Football Quizzes. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the app creation world has cottoned on to the fact that if you combine two things that people love….Football and Quizzes, then you have a recipe for success. But this doesn’t ensure quality and only around 10% of the Football Apps on the store are worth even five minutes of your time. Are you thinking of making an app? Here are some useful tips…

  • Avoid picture games. There is nothing more boring than a hangman style game with a footballer pictured and guessing letters to unveil who it is. These games have been done to death, and that reminds me..
  • Avoid Logo games. Way too many, making a truly great Logo game for football takes time and its no good littering the market any more
  • Avoid too easy. The one problem many football apps do have is that they are not made by people with a good knowledge of football and hence it all tends to be too easy with questions galore on the same narrow subjects.
  • The type of games that are really working at the moment in the world of app quizzing are head to head games…Quiz Up, Quiz Planet etc. So invest time and money and making it a more competitive element to it, where rival fans can play and friends can show off their knowledge. The quiz games of just playing for your own personal score are long dead and player interaction is the way forward!
  • Invest in a quality writer. As an experienced quizzer and writer myself, I see so many awful apps with questions that have been cobbled together. The quality of questions will keep players coming back and if your app is advert reliant then that is what you want. Spend time finding a good writer, get questions updated all the time and always upload them. 100,000 questions should be the very basic base line you should be looking at when launching an app about football.

So, don’t waste your time reinventing the while, get a good interactive format mixed with solid questions and you will be laughing all the way to the bank! Also check out Best Football Apps for all the best football related apps out there.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer – How can he not….?


Even the most ardent Manchester Untied fan who is loving live at the moment under Solksjaer  must admit that when he returned to the club in the wake of what will forever be known as “The Mourinho Years”, there was an initial excitement at seeing an old face but a longer term view of….who is next? Even in the initial few games when Solksjaer had made a positive impact, still all the talk was about the next manager? Time went on……the wins kept on coming….has Solksjaer now put himself in a position where the job is his to lose? How can Solksjaer secure the job? What will the end of the season need to look like for him to handed a full time deal….

Top 4 looked far beyond the team under Mourinho, far beyond it….and in free fall United fans feared the worst. But a string of solid wins under Solksjaer has paved a path to 4th place and the all-important Champions League qualifying positions.  Solksjaer has shown he can take the team into the Top 4 so now his job is to remain there. The very basis for Ole having a leading role in the running for the next permanent manager must surely come down to this? Remain in the Top 4 in a season where this looked impossible and it’s an achievement very few managers could have reached. Yes, in a normal season 4th place would be a disappointment, but if in May 2019 United are still there…it will feel like the biggest of victories!

Slipping out the Top 4 now he has achieved it may prove decisive. Again, even a 5th place finish with a stable team and good performances would be a massive improvement on what went before, but if we are talking about handing over the keys of the biggest club in world football to someone….then Top 4 is a must.

But what about this seasons Champions League? Solksjaer inherits one positive thing from his predecessor……knockout Champions League football. Strange things happen when we get to this stage of the worlds most lucrative competition and although the PSG game looks daunting, would you bet against a Solksjaer inspired Man United? Most expect PSG will have a little too much for United….their attacking might combined with the still questionable defence of United may prove a combination too much.

Beating PSG would help Solksjaer’s case no end, a run to the final and a Top 4 inish would surely mean the job is his?

United on the mend as Sanchez’s woes continue

While Manchester United’s season goes from strength to strength under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, one player at Old Trafford who continues to struggle is their Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez.

Since joining the club in January 2018, when Jose Mourinho was still in charge, Sanchez has hit the back of the net just five times. Only three of these goals have come in the Premier League, all at home and against teams in the bottom half of the table, with the other two netted in FA Cup matches in the capital.

And an injury against Southampton at the beginning of March meant he played no part in United’s dramatic – albeit slightly fortuitous – success over Paris St Germain in the Champions League a few days later.

Source: “Ole Gunnar Solskjær” (CC BY-ND 2.0) byArbeiderpartiet

While the Reds were edging to an away-goals success over PSG in Paris, the 30-year-old could only watch in the knowledge that he is likely to be out of action until mid-April.

United are now 10/1 to win the Champions League in the football betting and Sanchez may not even be available for the second leg of their quarter-final tie, which will take place on either April 16 or 17.

Speaking ahead of the second leg game against PSG, Solskjaer said Sanchez’s knee injury was a major concern for United and that he expects his forward to be sidelined for around “four to six weeks.”

The Sanchez story so far

As for Sanchez, his Old Trafford career does not make good reading – at the momemt.

During the final few months of last season, Sanchez could only score twice in the Premier League – in 12 appearances – with these goals coming at home to lowly Huddersfield and relegated Swansea.

The only other time he found the net for United during 2017/18, was a semi-final effort against Tottenham at Wembley, which was arguably his only significant contribution for Mourinho’s men last season.

Source: “Alexis Sánchez” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

Matters have not improved much this season either. So far, there has only been one goal in the league – a last-minute winner at home to Newcastle in October – and another in the FA Cup at former club Arsenal in round four.

He did manage one goal each against those footballing powerhouses of Costa Rica and Honduras, during international matches for Chile, but his dreadful goal tally for United was ultimately one of the reasons why Mourinho lost his job in December.

But while United’s fortunes have improved dramatically under Solskjaer, Sanchez’s have not and this injury is another setback for a player who is reportedly earning over £300,000 a week at Old Trafford.

Arsenal and Barcelona

All this is a far cry from his form during his three and a half seasons at Arsenal, and his three years with Barcelona before that.

With the Gunners, he netted 60 times in the Premier League, including 24 during the 2016/17 season alone. He also scored in two winning FA Cup finals for the north Londoners, when Arsene Wenger was manager.

Source: “Alexis Sánchez” (CC BY 2.0) by Ines11thiago

At Barcelona, it was a similar story scoring, on average, almost one goal every two games as he enjoyed La Liga honours with the Catalan club in 2012/13, one year after collecting a winners’ medal in the Copa del Rey.

As for his United legacy, that is yet to be decided but first, he must overcome the knee injury which has left him a spectator at a rejuvenated Old Trafford.

Everton – Is mediocrity enough?


Everton hold several records regarding their duration in the top flight of English football, being one of the few long standing members of the top division and of the Premier League. But of those seasons, despite the one or two flirts with relegation, they have never been serious contenders for the title and only once managed to earn a Champions League place, which they then failed to act on in the qualifying round. World class players have graced the turf at Goodison Park, talented managers have come and gone and memorable moments have been had. But as Everton fans watch their Anfield rivals claw their way to the top of the tree and challenge for the title, d they feel left behind? Is constant mid table finished enough? What more do you crave?

As a fan of Sunderland, I know all too well the pain of relegation, and the fight for survival. But those season were always full of drama, late wins, vital points and shock comebacks. I would not exchange the scraps for survival and “the great escapes” for 10 seasons of finishing 15th. The problem being for Everton fans that once the pre-season optimism has died down the usual top 6 take a stranglehold, and it has became clear that relegation is not a worry, then the season fades out into nothingness. Battling Wolves for 7th place, scraps with Newcastle for 12th……not the most exciting of seasons.

The money men of course may argue otherwise and the fact that Everton have been backed with huge wages, huge transfer fees and all the financial support they need it is evident that a lifetime eof 8th place finished would please everybody.

I am jot for one minute suggesting that relegation is an interesting or preferable option for the club…but what about the cups? Everton are one of many mid table Premier League clubs, who are unlikely to get relegated, but persist in playing weakened teams in the cup games? I do not understand the logic! The fans would relish a day out or two at Wembley, the excitement of a cup final….they don’t want to watch a second string side loose to Hull City one week before an away draw with Wolves in the battle for the 8th place with a full team.

Everton have tried everything to break into that top 6 but teams who were previously below them have now risen above and they run a risk of moving further away. Big money transfers  haven’t worked so far so is a new approach needed?

The Greatest FA Cup Finals of the 1990s


The 20th Century was a time when the FA cup was still at its peak. Still the end of season fixture. Still a competition teams took seriously. The decline would soon start to set in as the 21st Century entered its first decade but the 1990s was a time when the FA Cup mattered and the FA Cup Final was one of the biggest games of the year….let us take a look at the 5 best finals.

  1. Manchester United 4 – 0  Chelsea – 1994

The first Ferguson double was capped off with a display that showed this era of Manchester United at their very finest. Cantona’s majesty, Kanchelkis ripping defences apart, Hughes potency and Paul Ince running the midfield. Glenn Hoddle ripping off his tracksuit to enter the field of play remains a memorable moment of a game in which one of the finest managers of all time had a team that felt they could never lose.

  • Crystal Palace 3  – 3 Manchester United

Forget the replay, the original game between two sides eager for silverware was a thriller. No hot prediction site could have predicted this drama. This is just before “peak Ferguson” and you could already see the team Manchester United would become kicking into gear. Both teams lead at some stage when the game ended 2-2 and both teams scored in extra time. Ian Wright almost thought he had the cup won for Palace but a dramatic late equaliser for United took the game to a replay. Goals, drama and quality…what a final!

  • Liverpool 2 – 0 Sunderland

Plucky Sunderland had fought to their first final since the dramatic upset of 1973. Liverpool, faints of the game without a League title in the 1990s, still had a squad bursting with talent and although Sunderland under Malcolm Crosby gave their all, they didn’t have the quality to match Liverpool on the day. But the drama, the hope of another Wimbeldon-esque upset and the occasions itself made this a memorable final for all the right reasons.

  • Liverpool 0 – 1 Manchester United

There is something special when two genuine rivals meet in the FA Cup Final and what bigger rivalry than Liverpool vs United. Everything about the game from the wide suits to the Cantona winner was edge of your seat stuff. A game Manchester United fans will remember for a long time and one Liverpool faithful will be quick to forget…

  • Chelsea 2 – 0 Middlesbrough

Di Matteo left little time to sit down when he scored a 33 second goal to fire this Final into life, but the real story was Bryan Robsons team. Assembled with global superstars, a season of promise had ended in relegation but 2 cup finals had been rwached given hope of an upset. All the flair of Juninho, the potency of Ravenelli and Emerson passion could not stop a rampant Chelsea but whilst there was hope, this final remained gripping!

Ways to Pay for Online Sports Betting


Technology is constantly revolving as has the world of sports betting. No longer do you need to trek all the way to your local bookmakers to place your football coupon – you can now do this online! Not only that but on the best sports betting sites – you can do this via your mobile phone. The theme these days is definitely convenience – and unlike when you visit the bookmakers where you need to bring cold, hard cash – there are other faster ways of paying that could be more suitable for you. We’ve outlined some payment methods that you may want to use should you wish to visit an online sports betting site. 

Debit or Credit Card

This is the most obvious method of payment and still the most convenient for some. Pretty much all online casinos allow you the option to make a deposit using your debit or credit card. They also tend to affiliate with the biggest merchants out there. So, if you have a Visa, MasterCard, Maestro etc. – the reality is the betting brand has you covered! Depositing this way will ensure the money comes off your bank account pretty much instantly.

PayPal

This is one of the most famous e-wallets around and probably made famous by the likes of eBay. With PayPal the advantage is that you don’t need to enter your bank details online all the time – you can simply use your PayPal login details. PayPal is an entirely safe and secure method of payment, so there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to the transaction itself.  The fact that PayPal is widely used amongst other types of e-commerce sites also puts a further element of trust in the users’ mind when they are making a deposit.

Mobile Phone

This is the most convenient way to make your deposit on site. Think of contactless, but for mobile sports betting sites. The beauty of using this method is that the amount you have deposited will simply be added to your phone bill if you are part of a mobile phone contract. If you have a Pay As You Go phone – then the amount will simply be taken off your credit. This completely takes away any hassle or fuss from depositing on an online gaming site.  The only thing with this however is that just like when you use contactless, it can seem as if you aren’t really playing with your own money – as you can’t see it leave your bank account straight away. Bear that in mind and make sure you gamble responsibly. 

Skrill

Skrill is a payment method that has been created and developed specifically for iGaming websites and has proven to be incredibly popular with players. They have over 10 years of experience and allow instant balance transfers. It’s accepted at the majority of online casinos, bookmakers and poker rooms – and you can register any of your bank accounts with them. Your transactions are also completely safe and secure – so there’s nothing you need to worry about on that front. If you use this payment option a lot – then you can also get rewarded as a Skrill VIP.

Paysafecard

Paysafecard can be used across gaming, social media communities and film and entertainment. It works as a prepaid card and is so simple to use. You don’t need your debit or credit card, all you need to do is head to your local venue and top up your Paysafecard account. You will have a PIN that is 16 digits long, and all you need to do is enter that pin when you head to your favourite online gaming site. There is also an exclusive rewards scheme and loyalty scheme you can take advantage of. Make sure you take care of your PIN numbers though so it’s easy enough to make your deposits. 

Neteller

The primary attribute of Neteller is that it’s fast and simple. It’s accepted across a lot of iGaming sites such as Stakers – and is popular with players. All you need to do is sign up for your free Neteller account, add funds to it via various methods – and then make your fast and secure payment.  Again, it means that you don’t need to enter your credit or debit card details online which is a positive for a lot of players.

Zimpler

With Zimpler all you need is your mobile phone. All you need to do is select Zimpler as your chosen payment method and then enter your mobile phone number. Once you do this – Zimpler will send you your unique code. This option is also great in terms of responsible gambling as you can set budgets – so you can make sure that you spend within your means. These guys also have a fantastic customer services team; they have 24/7 support waiting for you.

ecoPayz

With ecoPayz – you can have an online account set up within minutes. It’s completely free to use – and there are no credit checks involved. You can top up your account whenever it suits you, and your cash will be available whenever you need it. You can rely on them for total safety and security of any online payment – and they make your personal information their priority.

As you can see there are loads of ways to deposit on betting sites these days – you aren’t limited to just debit and credit cards. You can make your deposits swiftly, securely – and are sure to find something that will suit your individual needs. Be sure to check out the payment methods that are available on the sports betting site that you join before parting with your hard earned cash. The processing and withdrawal requirements can also change depending on the method you choose – so be sure to read the small print.

When you go onto a sports betting sites their payment methods are usually outlined at the very bottom of the site.  Now hopefully you will have a clearer idea as to what all of them mean. 

9 Great Online Slots For The Footie Fan


Mahrez free kick 1” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

If you’ve ever played online slots, you’ll know there’s a themed game for just about everyone. And for footie fans, there’s not just one but an abundance of online slots based on the beautiful game.

Foxin Wins Football Fever

Created by NYX Gaming, this video slot gives its players a playful hero in the guise of a fox to play football in the slots environment with 25 paylines along with free spins, a random bonus and, when you access the superbet option, a chance to really win big.

Football Star

Full of twists and turns, Football Star brings the game to life via the spin of the wheel with the chance, for example, to win a free kick for the Striking Wild Bonus or take a shot into the reels to turn either reel 2, 3 or 4. To see Betway’s offer of up to £1000 in bonuses, which can be played on this game at its online casino, check out Bonus Source.
 

The Champions

Created by Pragmatic Play, The Champions captures football better than most slots games as its progressive play provides momentum akin to a real match. You score goals and shoot penalties as you hope to move towards the 20x multiplier. You can even achieve a 100x multiplier if you score all your penalties.

Top Strike Championship

20 paylines make this football themed online slots game attractive with an exciting knockout stage bringing the excitement of tournament play to the slots environment. Top Strike Championship, like Foxin Wins Football Fever, was created by NYX.

The Cup

Boasting free spins, multipliers and wilds, this 11-payline video slot is a fairly simple game that while lacking some of the extravagances of other football-themed slots can provide some potential big wins.

Soccer Safari

A new slots game from Micrograming boasts free spins with multipliers, wilds, and a second scatter which triggers the bonus of a penalty shootout round.


Arsenal vs Chelsea” (CC BY 2.0) by wonker

Soccer Babes

The attraction is in the title, at least for some. Football is combined with beautiful women to offer a slots game featuring wilds, multipliers and free spins combined with the excitement of “reading” an FHM top 100 issue.

Goool

Now considered a classic, Multislot’s soccer-infused game is simple, easy to play and fun with its 25 paylines and a RTP of 97.01%. The bonus round offers only free spins and a wild but that’s why this game is great for straightforward satisfaction.

Euro Golden Cup

Created by Microgaming, Euro Golden Cup offers players the chance to tackle different levels as they navigate through the game beginning with level one’s Trophy Collection which, by collecting trophies, unlocks further levels. Hit a flag simultaneously on the first and fifth reels and you earn a trophy. That moves you to free spins featuring stacked wilds. You can move to level two with ten free spins before the last level offers Striker, Play Maker or Penalty Shootout options.

The attraction of online slots and football is obvious. It combines the passions of its target audience with the thrill of the spinning wheel. For footie fans, there’s probably no better slots games than these.  

4 years to go…..Qatar’s Winter World Cup


December 18th marked four years until the World Cup Final in Qatar. The most controversial tournament in recent years, a tournament many think either should not, or will not happen. Particularly given the objection from the Premier League. But as we already begin to dream of the Three Lions lifting the trophy, there are other positives to consider about this tournament that has been awarded to a country in the most controversial of circumstances. Unbeknown to many Qatar’s involvement in sport is not new which the tiny nation having a passion for Horse-racing. In fact it is estimated that per capita per head they will spend more on Grand National Betting 2019 than any other nation! Anyways, back to the World Cup

Whether or not you believe this was a fair victory for Qatar, pitting aside the questionable aspects of the country itself and the suitability of such a small, hot nation to host the tournament, the more the weeks tick by the more we are going to have to get used to the fact in 2022 we are facing a winter world cup for the first time in history. Yes, I am one of many who agree that this World cup being changed as late as 2021 to be held in another country would not be a total shock. But there are some positives to this…

Travelling fans for one….if you are one of the fans lucky, or shall we say brave enough, to get to travel to the world cup, the size of Qatar means that this will be a fans dream as walking between games is a realistic option and being able to see 2-3 games per day in person is possible for the first time in World Cup History.

This will also help the players as there won’t be long travelling to games. They can get rooted in one location knowing that there next game isn’t too far away. Remember all the negativity about the distances needed to travel across Russia? Qatar won’t have that issue.

For the arm chair fan, one positive is that the kick off times will be perfect for fans in the UK with 7pm, 10pm and 1am kick offs. Yes the 1am games will be a stretch, and town centres will be packed if that involves England, but two games in Prime Time…yes please.

And above all else, maybe it is just me being selfish, but that fact that we have a winter world cup with a final 7 days before Xmas….what a Xmas that will be. Instead of the hustle and bustle of the Xmas rush, the Mariah Carey songs and the overall hype of the season…a few beers, lots of food…and World Cup Football. I say roll on Qatar 2022! And while you wait check out our World Cup Quiz page!

Top 5 England Moments….

Platt 1990


As we eagerly await this years Grand National we preview the Semi Finals of the first ever Nations Cup, with England involved and tipped to go all the way, creating a possible moment for the ages…what are the top 5 moments for England fans? Which 5 stand out above the rest……Here is a countdown…..

5. Owen 1 – 0  Brazil – I will start with something very selfish and something that will probably not appear on many lists…but in 2002 I believed.  I believe harder and stronger than I have ever believed. Sailing through to the Quarter Finals England met Brazil. Everyone said we couldn’t do it. Every one said I was crazy for planning a day off when England were in the Semi. But for that brief moment, when Lucio missed the ball and Owen nipped in to score…I was on top of the World

4. Shearers Header –  Ignore what followed. The nation collectively jumped up and down when, at Euro 96, facing the old enemy of the Germans Alan Shearer snuck in from a corner to head home an opening goal. The dream seemed more alive than ever…

3. David Platt – Belgium. Last 16. World Cup….the sweetest of last minute volleys. Need  I say more?

2. Colombian Penalty Win – 2018 was a fine summer. Yes we had the easy route, yes we lost 3 games and lost every time we played someone good but who can ever take away that moment, late into the night, when the pattern of classic England defeats occurred. Penalties loomed, we all feared the worst, but, and Ill say this quietly. We won. After the tears of Italia 90, the pain of Portugal, the Southgate miss, Batty and Ince in Argentina…..this was the moment and boy did it feel so darn good!

1.1966 – It can only be. The moment that is mentioned constantly by the England fans and the media, often wondering when it happened again. Yes it happened in our own back yard, and yes there is the whole “was it over the line” debate, but 4 glorious years we were champions of the world and even better we defeated the Germans on the way to doing it. If the hairs on the back of your neck do not stand up when you heard “They Think Its All Over….” Are you even an England fan? So as we await the newly formed competition why not relax and focus on the British sporting institution that is the Grand National and 2019 Grand national betting offers . Nothing can replace football in our national physch but the national provides a welcome distraction.

The Championship – Race to Promotion

Championship


The third best attended league in the world with the fifth highest wage bill……what can it be? The English Championship of course. One of the most competitive, fierce and unpredictable divisions in any country anywhere in the world. With the ultimate prize of the riches of the Premier League at stake, every game is a dog fight and every point is scrapped for! With 2019 beginning and the table shaping up let us take a look at some of the contenders for the crown!

Leeds United – At the time of writing Leeds are top of the tree and in all fairness have looked the tidiest side all season, with the most consistent performances and the best football on the pitch. Given the investment made in a world class manager and a team he wants, there can be little doubt where the success has came from and Lees are likely to be playing Premier League football next year.

Norwich – Fans may disagree but it is perhaps fair to label Norwich, in the bracket with the likes of West Brom, as a yo yo club who will spend the odd season or two in the top flight before plummeting back to a few seasons in the second tier. It seems their time to rise has come again and consistent performances, genuine goal threats and a solid back line leave them in a steady place to be a real contender for the top 2.

Middlesbrough – See above….a yo yo team who can’t quite find the balance of staying in the top flight for a good stretch. Again, like all the teams at the summit of the championship this year Middlesbrough have a great attacking threat and score goals. The odd slip up here and there perhaps down to some questionable team selections, has saw them slump behind the pace and will probably mean a play off pace is their aim.

West Brom – Can I really use YoYo team a third time? Well I am going to! West Brom are the ultimate modern day YoY o team. For whatever reason it is, they can usually conquer the Championships within a few season and return for a brief stay at the top before the inevitable relegation. What can be done to counter this? Maybe the strong squad they have now will be enough to get them promoted via the automatic places….but I think promotion via the play offs is more likely

Sheffield United – Tough years, relegations, squad battles…but its good to see The blades come out of the other end with a glimpse of the big time. Automatic promotion may just be out of reach but there are no reason they can’t put together the form needed to win via the playoffs!

Derby – The players are there, the coach seems to be working but the results won’t flow as consistently as they would like. For derby to get promoted they need a run of form that will leave them in good stead for the play offs. But perhaps Pride Park faithful may need to wait another season.

Prediction: Automatic  – Leeds and West Brom

Play Offs –Norwich City

Should the Premier League follow the NFL?


One of the main differences between the top sports league in the UK compared to those across the other side of the Pond in the USA, is the factor of promotion and relegation. Because the major American sports leagues began the franchise system some time ago, with the NHL, NBA, MLS and of course NFL, follow this method then they do not have the worries of relegation, promotion and can plan ahead knowing where they will be next season.

In recent years, as the money continues to flood into English football, the talk of a franchise system has increased and increased. This is essentially seen as an attempt for the elite clubs to keep onto the money coming into the game and would essentially be a system of the same 20 clubs being in the Premier League season after season with no real punishment for coming bottom. Would you be in favour of this or against? What odds would you get for a good title race? Would it mean a more level playing field where any team/rider could win like the 2019 Grand National ?

My initial reaction to this is one of negativity. As a life long Sunderland fan, the thought of being stuck in a league with no where to go, removing all of those joyous escapes from relegation and the championship title runs disappearing does not sound appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the NFL but not having relegation systems starts to make the league redundant for teams early on and as the season reaches halfway some games become formalities. Imagine watching Wolves vs Crystal Palace with both teams having nothing play for?

But then again, would a Franchise system improve the quality. The teams at the very top level would not be affected as they can plan well ahead knowing that money will flow in, the Premier League payments will be there and they will be playing at the very top level. But what about the middling teams? Knowing there is no threat to relegation teams like Southampton, Wolves, Cardiff, Newcastle etc could throw money at better players and raise the league’s lower end to be more competitive. This would push the bigger clubs to keep improving to get those all important champions league places and all round the money would improve quality.

But then again should  the game be all abut money and quality, or should the passion and drama come first? After all the Premier League is growing at a time when the NFL is fading in attendance numbers and TV viewing figures! The answer remains, don’t try and fix something that isn’t broken!

What could give Ole the job?


It may be an understatement to state that when Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was appointed as the temporary manager of Manchester United there was a sense of joy, largely due to the fact that the controversial and ever declining rule of Jose Mourinho was over. But is Ole Gunnar Solksjaer the man Manchester United would forsee as their long term manager? Would Ole Gunnar Solksjaer being appointed on a full time basis have been met with the same reaction? The answer I would suggest to both would be no……United expect bigger names, with bigger club experience and bigger influence on the world stage…

But as he remains undefeated the question now is….what does Ole Gunnar Solksjaer need to do to make himself a serious contender for the job? If he was to guide United back into the top 4, then that is a starting point. Good results, beating rivals and playing positive is all well and good but at the end of the day should he fail to reach the Top 4, the top job will never go to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer on a permanent basis.

But the Top 4, which looked so out of sight under Jose, now looks possible!

One criticism, or rather one point, that has been made towards Ole Gunnar Solksjaer in the early days was that he had a nice easy start with games that United would, under normal circumstances, have been expected to win. But the Spurs game changed everything. United survived the pressure and showed enough ambition to win. Something that was sorely lacking under the regime of Jose. Yes, United did get outplayed for large parts of the game but they had the team togetherness and bond to be able to withstand it stay United, and bring him the crucial 3 points.

Then there is the Champions League. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer would not be the first manager to win the Champions League and not keep his job, but in this scenario, with the fan support and all the bad times  they club has witnessed in recent months, if he won the Champions League surely Ole Gunnar Solksjaer would deserve a full time contract? You would have to think so but if you need some tipster recommendations on this you can always have a look on www.omegatipsters.com

A lot will also depend on the man over at Spurs. If Mr Pochettino suddenly becomes available and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has lead United to 4th place, a Champions League Semi Final and an FA Cup run…who would your money be on? I for one find it impossible to predict!

Spurs Without Kane?

Kane


January is turning into a month to forget for Spurs as not only did they suffer a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, thanks to the heroics of David De Gea, but during the game lost Harry Kane until March with an ankle injury. How will Spurs cope without their talisman? Are there title hopes now over? Will Top 4 slip away?

Harry Kane is a vital cog to the Spurs wheel, that is indeed true, and the fact they priced him at £310 million to an interested party this week shows they have no real consideration to sell him. But gone are the days when one truly outstanding player is the difference between Top 4 and a mid table splurge.  Kane will be missed of course, with the experience, the danger, the goal threat and the out and out strike rate he possesses. But in a team packed with the likes of Dele Ali, Eriksen, Song and the supporting cast, there are goals in Spurs and they have been playing well enough to maintain a Top 4 birth.

After all, the game against Manchester United showed how dominant Spurs can be as they carved out chance after chance but just couldn’t take it. Yes, they will need to be clinical in finishing but they would be more worried if the chances simply were not being made!

Were Spurs really in the title race before Kane was ruled out until March? I guess that is the question that you need to ask yourself and even the most die hard Spurs fan must admit that the chances of Liverpool AND Man City falling to the point where Spurs were in with a shout was slim. Even the most ardent Spurs fan wouldn’t put money on them catching them even if they had Free bets. They are that far ahead, in terms of points and the actual on the pitch play, of the Top four rivals that slipping out of the Top 4 is not really feasible either.

The one area in which they will sorely miss Harry Kane is the Champions League. As Dortmund await, they will be rubbing their hands at not having to deal with his threat. Champions League ties, especially with away goals in effect can turn on goals and that’s what Harry Kane gets. Without him, teams will feel more confident and be able to plan around not having to deal with his threat.

In all, yes Kane will be missed but Spurs season will end in the same way with or without him….no trophies, 3rd place and a huge decision to make for the manager….

Can anyone catch Liverpool?

Klopp


As 2019 begins we have a runaway leader in the Premier League….and perhaps not the team many would expect. Liverpool currently sit on top of the pile of the Premier League and they look to be rooted there for a while. Some would say it is hardly a surprise due to the slow revolution Jurgen Klopp has been putting in place whilst others may point to the fact Liverpool have always promised but never really delivered in the Premier League era! But who can catch them?

First let us look at Liverpool themselves. The front line they have is one of, if not the best, in world football…Mane, Firmino and Salah. If they keep fit and on form then it is hard to see them failing! If they lose one or two to injury or they hit a bad patch of form, then it could lead to the old fashioned Liverpool slump.

The nearest contender would be Manchester City who were the pace setters until a bad set of luck including injuries and some shock results. They will hit form again and it all depends on how that form affects the pressure on Liverpool at the top. Manchester City and Pep have been there before and the experience in the title race may well be the key difference. My gut instinct says City have enough quality, enough experience and enough time to be able to topple Liverpool and take the title.

Spurs – Apart from Gooners, I imagine a lot of neutrals would  like to see Spurs have a strong run at the title. They certainly have the players, have the manager and have the most devastating striker in the Premier League. However, the feeling generally is that they lack 2-3 world class players in the squad and are prone to the dodgy results that plague their season.  2nd place would be a better aim!

Arsenal – Despite the post-Wegner resurgence, Arsenal have faded to the back line of title contention due to a start in which they lost key points. All signs are pointing to a successful reign under Emery but battling for 4th place is more in their sites!

Chelsea – Started well and certainly have a squad deep enough to go long into the season , but something about Chelsea always suggests they lack the cutting edge. Whilst Liverpool have breezed past teams and washed them away with their free flowing attacking football, Chelsea have grinded out results and never fully clicked into gear. A top 4 place looks likely but they need to be careful

Manchester united – Optimism is high after Jose’s departure, but the bare facts remain that United are under staffed and too far behind to even perhaps get back into the champions league fold. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer may well restore some faith to Old Trafford, but getting them into title contention will have to wait until the next reign.

Whatever happens, it is sure to be a dramatic season and proof again that the Premier League is the finest league in the world!

England’s Greatest Ever Team?

Greatest England Team

Having followed the ups and downs of England over the years, the heartaches, the misery and the occasional joy. Here is My Greatest Team of the Three Lions. There will no doubt be a lot of debate and you would be hard to find a list of bookmakers uk who would agree on my team!

Goalkeeper: David Seaman

Sadly, whenever you mention David Seaman to fans nowadays the abiding memory will be him tumbling back into the net in the 2002 World Cup as a free kick from Ronaldinho flies over his head.

However, prior to his error ridden decline, when he was at the top his game David Seaman was untouchable. An imposing figure who inspired confidence in the defence, penalty saving maestro and an experienced set of hands gave England a number 1 to be proud of. The troubles at finding his

replacement is evidence enough that Seaman remains the safest pair of hands England have ever had.

Right Back: Gary Neville

Love him or hate him one thing is clear Gary Neville has been the most trustworthy and dependable right back in the history of England. Since cementing the position in the late 1990s

Neville provided stability and class to the position he made his own. Always one of the first names on the team sheet Neville was as solid at the back as he was going forward and produced a partnership with David Beckham that led England to many a victory. In latter years he became a great leader and yet again England have trouble replacing him since.

Left Back: Ashley Cole

Always a controversial figure, even those who loath Ashley Cole for his off the field antics or “car stopping” wage demands have to admit that for a number of years he was the only World Class player in the England side. Pacey, intelligent and persistent Cole had an engine like no other and even in the dire minutes of matches would still be pacing up and down the left hand flank long before others had given in. Cole was a danger going forward, easily able to beat a band but was also tough to beat at the back. Solid, reliable and tough.

Centre Back: Bobby Moore (Captain)

Bobby Moore will always be remembered for two things 1) lifting the 1966 World Cup at Wembley and 2) that Pele Tackle. But beyond that Moore was one of the best, most intelligent and most effective defenders ever to grace the pace. Not many men beat Moore to the tackle and his leadership qualities inspired a generation. Dependable, as good in the air as on the ground and an all round world class defender, Moore captains My Greatest Team and leads by example.

Centre Back: Sol Campbell

At his peak Sol Campbell was unbeatable. Physically dominating, aerially superb and great with the ball at his feat any England team with Campbell at the back knew they had a last line of defence that was tough to beat. A threat offensively in the air as well as a leader on the pitch, Campbell was the

perfect centre back.

Right Midfield: David Beckham

His one man show to lift England from the depth sof despair to qualification for the 2002 World Cup is prove enough that England runs through this mans blood. The heart and engine of a true warrior on the pitch Beckham also possessed a crossing and dead ball ability second to none. His free kick ability alone is enough to make i’m worthy of a place in My Greatest Team but as an all round footballer, Beckham had it all.

Left Midfield: Stanley Matthews

Always a troubled spot for England but Stanley Matthews could play anywhere and with his trickery, ability to beat a man time after after time and his ingenious skills with the ball, Matthews would add unpredictability and excitement to the left flank and trouble anyone who dar ed come near!

Centre Midfield: Bryan Robson (Vice Captain)

Captain Marvel himself. Bryan Robson was a tough talking, inventive and creative footballer with the ability to score from anywhere on the pitch. Every team needs a man like Robson at its heart to drive forward play, get stuck into opponents and pop up in both boxes. Robson never got the England career he deserved for one reason or another but he coasts into My Greatest Team.

Centre Midfield: Bobby Charlton

Another easy choice. One of the Englands most prolific scorers with many of is goals coming from outside the area, when the ball was at Bobby’s feat anything could happen. Genuinely World Class over most of his career Charlton was the driving force in the centre of the England team that won the World Cup and although clips these days show mainly his 30 yard screamers, Charlton also offered creative passing, tough tackling and a never say die attitude that is at the core of My Greatest Team

Striker: Gary Lineker

For the sheer amount of times Lineker popped up in the box and scored out of the blie he deserves a place in the side. Never have the Three Lions had a more prolific poachers in the 18 yard box than Linker. Whether it was dealing with crosses, heading goals, using his pace to chase down long balls…Lineker was n effective and ruthless figure and if I want the ball to fall to anyone in the 18 yard box, it would be Lineker every time

Striker: Michael Owen

For the sheer way he burst onto the scene with the wonder goal in the 1998 World Cup through to the years of terrorising defences, Michael Owen completes the line up. His pace caused fear in even the most experienced back fours and his ability to find the net was unrivalled. At his peak Owen was amongst the worlds greatest strikers and with the likes of Beckham and Charlton to supply him, the Greatest Team would have a potent threat.

Subs

Nobby Stiles

Able to play anywhere along the back four and experience of the big matches. Could be crucial if we need defensive back up

John Barnes

Tricky, able to find the net under any circumstances and a player who no defender would like to see warming up, Barnes gives that flair and extra danger that could be needed during the match.

Geoff Hurst

Who better to bring on in big matches when in need of a goal? Been there, done that and got the t shirt!

Ivan Gazidis, AC Milan’s Best Signing

Ivan

After spending 10 years at Arsenal Ivan Gazidis departed the Emirates to join the San Siro. Gazidis is now AC Milan’s new CEO. He emphasized that after spending so much time in London it is high time he should seek for a new challenge.

However, there are absolutely numerous reasons why the South African born is being labelled AC Milan’s best signing. Even though the club has managed to attract big name players such as Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Mauldin. Gazidis arrival is actually fundamental considering his knowledge of the game and transfer deals and will definitely increase the chances to win big at online sports betting.

Ivan Gazidis Role at AC Milan

After making huge profits and securing mega deals for Arsenal, it is very clear why Gazidis was the right man to take over at AC Milan. The Elliot Management Corporation, the owners of AC Milan, opted for the former Gunners CEO because of his ability to transform the finances of the club so that they can comply with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. In this regard, the Italian club is in breach of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Rule.

However, the coming of Gazidis was recommended to help the former Italian giant to have a stable and viable plan to make a profit. Ivan is expected to hit the ground running to rescue AC Milan’s financial woes. This has caused the Italian club to lag behind in terms of challenging for big trophies in Europe and in Serie A.

Everyone in the football realms knows that Gazidis is the account magician and to be frank enough the San Siro giant has scooped a jackpot. Even though the jackpot will not be the same as the ones offered at sites such as casinos online south africa, at least they have something to talk about.

Ivan Gazidis Contribution to Arsenal

The South African accounting mastermind contributed massively to Arsenal football club’s growth. During his 10 year tenure at the Emirates. And he presided over many deals that led the club to have a turnover of around £422.8 Million. In the 2016-17 season, the Arsenal website announced that the club had a profit increase of 87%.

Adding to that he secured a sponsorship deal with the Fly Emirates that is worth more than £200 million.

How to Bet on Rugby

The art of gambling has been made so beautiful that you can gamble on anything. Yes, that’s right! Are you a tennis fan, instead of a rugby fan or a fan of both? Now when you are watching your favourite game you can bet on it. Even when you are on the go you can bet on Rugby.

We thank the betting gods that came up with such brilliant ideas. Now keep on reading as we tell you secrets that no one has ever told you about how to win money on rugby betting at either top online casinos or sports betting companies.

Tips on how to take the money home with you. You must;

  • Make sure that you are up to speed with the competition rules. More people have been persuaded to take on a more attacking game by being offered a bonus point. But that is not how to go about it, believe us. Starting with a minimum bet is always ideal.
  • Study the current form and previous history of the teams. We recommend that you focus on the current, though. Because the bad thing about history is that teams improve or if they have been doing great they can fall. That is why looking at the current form is what matters. And know how they are playing before you jump into betting.
  • Take into consideration styles of play. Knowing the type of play can often point towards betting patterns that are worth adopting.
  • You can never go wrong when you try these strategies. The most amazing thing that you can know about this is the fact that when you are betting on rugby you have so many options. Just like when you are betting for any other sport.

And the most amazing thing about betting is the fact that you are guaranteed at least to go away with something. Well, that is if you had time to wait and read our betting tips before you bet. You will thank us one of these days.

At most us casinos online, rugby offers many opportunities for gamblers to profit. But the greatest reward is just the opportunity to bet real. The thrills and the fun of the hobby are their own reward. So never gamble with what you cannot lose. We hope that this article is as useful to you as it has been to others.

West Ham United v Manchester City – Betting Preview

0-2 Rice OG

After a summer that promised so much, West Ham United have failed to live up to their pre-season expectations so far as they welcome Manchester City to the London Stadium on Saturday.

An influx of new signings at a cost of over £100m suggested the Hammers would be pushing for a top six finish, but thus far, are rooted in the bottom half of the table.

City are still one of three teams in the Premier League who remain unbeaten and they’ll be looking to take the game to West Ham in their quest to make it five consecutive league wins.

Here, Sportingly Better dissect the best tips for this weekend’s clash and take a closer look at the players who are likely to impress.

Match Overview

Traditionally, West Ham usually suffer at the mercy of Manchester City and even more so in home games, losing the last two against The Citizens 4-1 & 4-0.


Manager Manuel Pellegrini will know just how tough Saturday’s game will be and it hasn’t been made easier with the number of players in the treatment room.

Up to seven first team players will miss out, although English pair Jack Wilshere and Andy Carroll are nearing a return to the starting line-up.
Robert Snodgrass is banned after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Huddersfield Town but skipper Mark Noble is available, returning after a two-game absence for a red card at Leicester City last month.

City manager Pep Guardiola has no fresh injury concerns but is unlikely to risk Bernardo Silva or Nicolas Otamendi, who aren’t quite fully fit from their recent setbacks.

Kevin de Bruyne and Benjamin Mendy will definitely miss out through injury but Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan are in line for a start.
Sergio Aguero will spearhead the attack supported by Riyad Mahrez and either Raheem Sterling or Leroy Sane on the left flank, providing City with plenty of goal scoring options.

Guardiola’s side are as short as 1.27 to record their third successive league win at the London Stadium whereas you can back the Hammers at a whopping 14.0

Verdict:

There’s no hiding from the fact that it’ll be one of West Ham’s toughest fixtures of the season but they do have it in their armoury to cause an upset.

Felipe Anderson is enjoying a fruitful spell in front of goal and Marko Arnautovic is more than capable of causing the City defence problems.
Defensively, Issa Diop and Fabian Balbuena will have to be at their very best to stop the expected onslaught of City pressure.
It would take a brave man to bet against City losing as they really are beginning to get into their stride this season.
Even with a European game on Tuesday, don’t expect City to take their foot off the gas and a victory against the Hammers will prepare them nicely for the visit to Lyon.

With that in mind, in Champions League betting, you can back City to lift the Champions League at 4.7 with Betfair and they’re 2.52 just to reach the final itself.

For Saturday’s game however, it’s hard to look past a City win but it should be an entertaining affair with West Ham looking to cause an upset.
Predicted Line-Ups

West Ham: GK – Fabianski; DF – Cresswell, Diop, Balbuena, Zabaleta; MF – Anderson, Noble, Rice, Obiang, Diangana; ST – Arnautovic
Man City: GK – Ederson; DF – Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Delph; MF – Gundogan, Fernandinho, D Silva; ST – Sterling, Mahrez, Aguero
Recommended Football Tips

Manchester City to win 3-0 @ 9.6
Manchester City to win 3-2 @29.0
Over 4.5 goals @ 3.6

Rooney and England

Rooney

The dust has now settled on the final appearance of Wayne Rooney for the England national team. Although controversial, Wayne Rooney was handed the Number 10 shirt for a farewell swan song against the USA, the country in which he now plies his trade. Given that such a ceremonial and high profile send off was carried out, it begins to beg the question of the place of Wayne Rooney in the history of English football. Where does he rank against the greats? Check this site out to see what the internet thinks.

For Wayne Rooney, the lack of real achievements in terms of tournament football in his era will also overshadow his England time. He was very much in focus at the end of the so called Golden Era, when world class players for their clubs failed to produce world class performances for England on the big stage. Yes, the qualification records were impressive and Wayne Rooney did of course end up as England’s all time leading goal scorer….but surely that would be expected by a man of his talent leading a front line against the minor nations we often encounter in the qualification stages?

Indeed, a general poll by a national newspaper asked people what word they would most attach to Rooney’s career and words such as “let down” “overhyped” and “disappointment” came near the top of the poll…and in all honesty it is not hard to see why. When Rooney first burst onto the scene, much like Michael Owen in 1998, there was an optimism that this was the player who would lead us to glory and take us from wannabes to real contenders.

But it didn’t happen….

What did happen though is Wayne Rooney scored goals! Whenever Rooney pulled on the England shirt, he tended to be the biggest goal threat in the team. Without him in the side, would we have scraped the 1-0 or 2-1 wins in which he provided the goals?  On the other hand….when you compare his to the Harry Kane who won the Golden Boot and scored the goals to take England to a World Cup Semi-final, or to the Golden Boot winning Gary Lineker or the Euro 96 star Alan Shearer….can you really rank Rooney in that company?

In a ranking of the overall Top 50 England players of all time, I suggested that Rooney would struggle to be considered other than the very lower ranks. The 1966 team must, nearly all, be considered above him, as well as the pioneers in the early days when England rocked the world and were ranked as the worlds finest! Then throw into the mix the strikers who performed on the big occasions…Shearer, Lineker, Kane and even Owen plus the driving forces behind sides Rooney was in…Beckham, Adams, Terry. What about the genuine players who, during their time, could have been considered the best in the world in their position….Gary Neville, Ashley Cole, Steve Mcmanana, David Seaman.

Hence, although Wayne Rooney should be applauded and recognised for the goals he has scored, his place among the greatest England players of all time remains questionable.

Man City and FFP

Man City Owner

Another season, and another Financial Fair Play issue emerges around Manchester City. Manchester City fans accuse FIFA of striving to protect the status quo under pressure from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid, FIFA say they are following the rules! Who is to believe? What is the true purpose of the Financial Fair Play issue? Are Manchester City Innocent? The issue is complex…

Actually, to say that the Financial Fair Play Regulations are complex is the understatement of the century. You may require degrees in Economics, statistics and business just to even get a grasp of what  is actually allowed or denied under the regulations! Even the purpose of the Financial Fair Play are disputed.

One understanding is that the Financial Fair Play rules are there to stop clubs outspending income and going into trouble and then being forced to disappear.  Far too many clubs in recent years have been forced to start again after going out of business and the many feel the basis of the Financial Fair Play rules should be to target these clubs, stop this happening and making sure clubs are only spending within their means, wherever this spend comes from!

However, another line of thought is that the Financial Fair Play rules are there to stop wealthy owners ploughing endless cash into clubs and giving them an unfair advantage in leagues and cup competitions. One argument would be that this is to stop the likes of Manchester City rising to dominance based on having a wealthy owner, but the counter argument would suggest that as long as the money is available to the club and they aren’t crippling with debt, why should they be forced to play by Financial Fair Play?

Manchester City fans have a very very different view of the aims and motives of Financial Fair Play and it was clear that when the latest Financial Fair Play/Manchester City story broke this week. Fans piled online, social media and radio phone ins to express their view that all Financial Fair Play is set out to do is to make sure that no “new” clubs break into the elite and that the interest of the established giants of Europe, assumingly those likely to be part of the all new European Super League when it emerges. Is this fair to say?

Manchester City fans may feel aggrieved indeed if the club are punished again under Financial Fair Play and there is a suggestion that perhaps they just are less wise to how to play the system than the other teams. Looking at the likes of PSG and their spends, as well as the likes of Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona, its hard to fathom how they would not fall foul of Financial Fair Play yet City would.

Either way, there is no prove, no concrete judgements and with all sorts of issues arising including image right payments, pre-contracts and alike…..it could get very messy before Financial Fair Play and Manchester City are settled.

It would appear that ultimately something has to give. Incidentally have you ever wondered what the difference was between a Private Bookie and a Traditional Bookmaker? I suggest you look for yourselves to see the difference.

 

Lampard vs Gerrard: who will fare better?

Gerrard Lampard

As many new football managers begin to get to grips with the challenges facing them in their respective roles, there is high interest in two particular individuals. In their playing prime, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard were two of England’s finest; goalscoring central midfielders who performed at the very highest level – the World Cup, European Championships, the Champions League, the Premier League. Two of the finest midfielders of their generation, almost certainly.

In managerial terms however, both men are novices – and the 2018-19 season sees them making their debuts in the dugout (or technical area, if you will). Lampard was appointed manager at Derby County; Gerrard hired at Glasgow Rangers. Two big clubs, in their own right, each with their own demands and challenges. Neither man has any real track record in coaching and management to speak of – though Gerrard had a spell as Liverpool U18s manager prior to arriving at Ibrox – so these are testing assignments for the newcomers. The question is, who’s going to fare better?

Lampard made a great start to life at Derby, when his team beat Reading with a late winning goal on the opening day of the season, but in the immediate matches following that he got a taste of how difficult the Championship can be. Derby were heavily beaten, 4-1, at home by Leeds, before a 2-1 defeat at Millwall that left Lampard under no illusions regarding the size of the task ahead. A 2-0 home victory over Ipswich a few days after helped to redress the balance.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” he told the Independent. “I knew that for a fact, and it will continue not being easy, and that’ll be the fact for every manager in this league this season.”

Against Millwall, Derby were caught out by the fast start made by the hosts. Millwall were positive and strong, and went straight at Lampard’s side, who were 2-0 down and as good as beaten before they even got going. That was a lesson for Lampard and his players; a realisation that they won’t always – or often – be afforded the luxury of settling into a game at their own pace.

Like many new managers, Lampard has a honeymoon period – that stage, at the start of his time in charge, when he’s given time to settle in, to shape his squad, and get his ideas across. He’s seen as a bright, young and ambitious coach although of course, those opinions are based on judgement, not evidence. No-one actually knows what he’s like as a manager. And Derby are not a club merely content with occupying a comfortable place in the Championship league table. A mixed run of results and a midtable finish probably isn’t going to be considered good enough for the Rams, who clearly have intentions of returning to the Premier League.

They’ve fallen short in recent seasons and churned through managers – Lampard is their seventh since Steve McClaren left in May 2015. The club’s previous dealings suggest Lampard may not have a longer shelf life than a season, unless that season is a successful one. That won’t be easy – the Championship is intensely competitive and Derby, according to Betway, are among a large group of clubs tipped to finish in the top six.

At Rangers, meanwhile, Gerrard has a massive task. The Glasgow club has a clearly defined goal – to get back to the very top of the Scottish football summit, and that means toppling city rivals Celtic, who have dominated in recent years. Historically, Rangers have always gone toe-to-toe with Celtic, but were demoted to the third tier of Scottish football in 2012 and have been fighting their way back up again since. You can test your knowledge of Rangers and its history here.

The club has rebuilt and returned to the SPL in 2016. In 2016-17, Rangers finished third, 39 points behind Celtic and Aberdeen. Last season, that gap was 12 points behind Celtic and three behind Aberdeen. At the very least, Gerrard has to push his team much closer to Celtic, and push them harder for the title; leapfrogging Aberdeen and into second place is also surely required.

“I feel as though I have players that want to go out there and give everything,” he told the Sunday Herald. “But I can’t control the expectations of the supporters. Fans are fans and they’re going to get excited. They are supporting a huge football club and are used to seeing success.”

Ultimately, success for Rangers means winning the SPL. Celtic have won the last seven titles straight, so it won’t be easy. For the course of this season, a genuine title challenge from Rangers would certainly give Gerrard some credit in the bank, and if the Gers can score some silverware in one of the cup competitions, he’ll have made a great start.

Five Common Mistakes to Avoid When Betting on Football

If you are new to betting you are bound to make mistakes, yet even experienced punters fall into the same traps, and they could be costly. More often than not, you make these mistakes at a price.

Instead, you can now learn some common mistakes to avoid without costing you too much money.

Loyalty to one bookmaker

We all have our favourite bookie or just a betting site we have got so used to we can’t imagine changing. Firstly, you are missing out hundreds of pounds worth of great betting offers as a new customer.

Secondly, if you use odds comparison services to find the best odds. You will notice the range in which betting sites actually have the best odds for events. You can get more value for money (through betting offers) and the best odds by using more than one bookmaker.

Betfair and Bethard have some of the highest odds for Premier League matches out there. In fact, Betfair even cites the proof on their promotions page.

Placing Bets Without Doing Any Research

A good place to start, but don’t get me wrong. You can win plenty of bets by what you feel could come in. However, it is a sure way to rack up heavy losses over time. Be meticulous in your research and don’t just blindly follow tipsters.

You will still lose plenty of bets, that’s just the way it is. But, it certainly won’t do any harm, and will more than likely increase the chances of your bet winning.

Placing Unrealistic Acca’s

You have just come from Twitter (tip: follow BettingLounge on Twitter) on a Saturday evening. After seeing hundreds of people posting their huge wins from their long-shot acca’s, and naturally, you get jealous.

You try to emulate their big wins by placing a number of six-fold plus acca’s or simply follow the tipster’s that keep retweeting these images. But, what you don’t see is most people who bet on sports, lose.

Bookies are still making disgusting amounts of profit even with these tipsters/people smashing their longshot acca’s. Try stick to manageable, winnable doubles and trebles, and aim for sustainable profit.

It’s fine to place a longshot, high odds acca every now and then for fun. But, do not kid yourself into thinking it’s a good way of making money. Betting just isn’t. Instead, use it to enhance the sporting experience.Chasing Losses

We all know that optimistic feeling as the build-up to kick-off gets closer. “I am going to win big today”. 45 minutes later and everything has gone wrong.

A team that hasn’t won in six matches is smashing the top of the league 3-0, and your bet is losing.

“Oo, I could put a fiver on this team to come back and win, or maybe a half-time acca to try and recover my losses”. Ignore this voice with a passion. Just ignore it. Never attempt to recover losses at any point in your betting life. It just doesn’t work.

Bet with money you are prepared to lose, and take it well if it does. When the fun stops, stop.

Betting Emotionally

This can seem like a straight-forward rule to follow, but sometimes it is hard. I often want to bet on my own team because I feel they could get the win. Just avoid it. It hurts that much more when both your team and bets lose.

The same goes for your betting preferences for who you like or dislike. Emotional thinking will often lead to misjudgement for your bets. Just because you hate Leeds doesn’t mean they are going to lose.

 

 

 

World Cup Quiz

Everyone knows the big dogs when it comes to the World Cup, with teams like Brazil, Germany, Italy and Uruguay winning an incredible 15 tournaments (75% of the competitions) between them. But what about the smaller teams? Underdog nations such as Iceland and Panama are making their debut this year, whilst other nations such as Japan and Iran who’ve never won, have made to another of many World Cups. Whilst most people’s Odds on who will win World Cup 2018 will lie with the bigger teams, remember those champions had to make their debut at some point! Take this quiz to find out who your second pick should be this year!

Share it with your friends and let us know who you got!

Copy the following shortcode to your page:

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Asian Chances at the Fifa World Cup 2018

Russia 2018

Other than the magical South Korean Semi Final run when they hosted the finals in 2002, Asian teams have always struggled. Yes there have been memorable moments (who will ever forget the Saudi Arabian goal in 1994) but more often than not they fail to make it past the group stage and are home before the serious competition starts. What about this year? Will they fair any better? Let us take a look……

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia have had one shining World Cup moment, when they scored perhaps one of the finest goals in World Cup history in 1994 with a solo effort that you need to check out now on Youtube. However, other than that they have been something of the boys to beat with some heavy score lines against them. Even though in 2018 they have been handed a fairly tame group, they would probably have to beat hosts Russia and get something out Egypt to progress which seems unlikely. 0 points and 0 goals is more likely.

Iran

Saudi Arabia may have a nice draw, Iran have the worst this years Fifa World Cup 2018. There is very little to say about the uninspiring Iran line up, other than that they will likely be on the end of convincing defeats to both Spain and Portugal. Again, they face a battle with Morocco to get 3rd in the group, but even that seems a stretch. Another Asian team who is more likely to get 0 points and 0 goals than anything else.

Australia

….well we may as well include them! With an ever impressive Peru, a robust Denmark and a star studded France, Australia cannot have been happy with the draw they faced. They lack experience, lack quality and they lack a chance.

South Korea

Always remembered for their run in 2002, they can expect little in 2018 as the draw was not kind. Germany will be looking to dish out a beating, and with a Swedish side that seem to hitting form at the right team and an ever robust Mexico, I am struggling to see where these points will come from and sadly for the Korean’s an early exit seems inevitable.

Japan

Always outsiders when it comes to the finals, but with an impressive qualification record, the draw will have pleased Japan. I don’t think they will fear Poland, Colombia and Senegal and this appears one of the most unpredictable groups in the contest. Picking up one win and holding on for a draw elsewhere may be enough to send them in the next round and out of all of the Asian teams, although I think none will qualify, if I had to choose one it would be Japan.

Hence, just like the African nations, I forsee very little hope for the Asian nations and they too could all find themselves down and out of the World cup after the group stage.

Why not check out our free World Cup Quiz?

Infographic – Best 11 at the World Cup

So we’re a few games into the World Cup now and as expected, it’s been really hard to predict the outcomes, as it usually is, going massively against the expected predictions. We’ve seen Argentina really struggle against a resolute Iceland, Germany bested by a rampant Mexico and as expected and England struggle to come through a game they should have breezed through.

Big tournaments throw up some surprises but even before this World Cup there were a few when it came to the players going into the tournament. Most fans and pundits would have selected a team they thought would have done well but what they probably didn’t know is the exact form of the players coming in to the tournament. WhoScored.com has a unique system for rating players and based upon these, the best 11 at the World Cup looks completely different to what would be expected.

If you’re as intrigued as we were, see our infographic below and try not to be too shocked at some of the players. Spain to win world cup odds are 9/2 which comes as no surprise as they continue to play some of the most attractive football in the tournament and have all but secured there progression to the knock out stages.

The Best 11 at the World Cup

African Chances at the World Cup

World Cup

Pele one famously said that he believed an African nation would win the World Cup by the year 2000. That has never really come close to being a reality, and 18 years later we still await the first real African contender. Will 2018 be the year this finally comes through for Pele, or will we see the African nations fail to materialise once again. With a strong duo from South America and 3-4 European nations having their best teams in years it may prove difficult but let us have a look at each team and their hopes…

Egypt

Two words define the chances of Egypt…Mo Salah. If he is fit and playing well, they may stand a chance of getting out of the group. If not….they won’t. It is a rare thing for them to qualify for a World Cup and to be fair they have been handed a group that is passable. Uruguay will be the favourites of course, but if Egypt can counter the home advantage of Russia they may well make it through. The last 16 meeting with Portugal or Spain should see their end…

Morocco

Speaking of Portugal and Spain, Morocco find themselves in the group with the two European giants.  It would take a miracle for them to progress out of this group, but if they do a tame Last 16 may await with Uruguay. Iran are the third team they will face at the group stage and with both teams knowing a 3 point win is what matters in that meeting, it is too lose to call. An exit at the group stage beckons.

Nigeria

Not the force they once were, and looking very week in the build up, Nigeria may also struggle to get past the group stage. Argentina should coast a relatively easy Group D and Croatia have been looking solid enough to clinch second. If Nigeria want to contend they will have to overcome an unpredictable Iceland. Lacking the stars they once had, this will be a tough ask to get out of the group.

Tunisia

Faced with England and Belgium in the group, I don’t imagine Tunisia will be seeing the latter stages. Never looked impressive in qualification and nor have they improved since. A bottom of the group clash with Panama is their only hope of scoring any points.

Senegal

If I was a betting man and had to pick one African team with the best chance of making it out of the groups, my money would be on Senegal. Poland and Japan are not the most intimidating of opponents, and even group favourites Colombia are not the team they were 4 years ago. Senegal have some really player for player quality and a good team ethos.  I don’t see them making it past the Last 16 where England of Belgium will await however.

All in all, 2018 does not mark a high point for the African nations. Anyone of them will be overjoyed to make it past the group and I think it will be nothing sort of a shock if any of them are still around come the Quarter Finals.

A Closer Look at England’s World Cup Opponents

England World Cup

As we have now just passed the 50-day mark until the World Cup, can we officially say it is time to get excited? For England fans, so disheartened by the last few major tournaments, let’s say that any excitement is also mixed with a little trepidation. However, there are some good signs coming from the recent performances of Gareth Southgate’s men that suggest they could leave a more positive impact in Russia.

Before getting into the possibilities of how far England could go, they will, of course, have to navigate the group stage. When the draw was made, Southgate would have been reasonably happy with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. However, it might be a little trickier than it looks. Here is a quick run-down of those three opponents:

Belgium

They are the favourites (5/6) to top Group G, and even the most ardent England fans would find that difficult to argue against. There is so much to like about this Belgium side: a world class keeper in Courtois; brilliant defenders in Vertonghen and Kompany; the midfield of De Bruyne, Nainggolan and Hazard; the attacking options offered by Mertens and Lukaku. In fact, Belgium’s stock has risen so much in recent years that they are considered the value bet at 12/1 to win the World Cup. You can check out thebookiesoffers.co.uk for the latest free bets to back them, England or anyone else.

Key man: Kevin De Bruyne – it’s his time to stake a claim to be the best player in the world.

BelgiumThis Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

 

Tunisia

England play Tunisia in their opening fixture and they may be in for a tougher game than most believe. The North African side are now ranked as high is 14th in the world, England by comparison are 13th. It would be nevertheless a huge shock if they beat England and went on to qualify from Group G (5/1 odds). However, don’t be completely shocked if the Tunisians come away with a point from that first game. They are hard to break down and could sucker punch England if they are not careful.

Key man: Wahbi Khazri – something of an enigma at Sunderland, but now much improved at Rennes (on loan). He is one of those players who can make a goal from nothing. Beware.

Panama:

Panama have qualified for the first World Cup in their history, so it is likely their biggest aspiration will simply be to avoid being the group whipping boys. Can they cause an upset? Probably not. They are priced around 50/1 to win the group and up to 2000/1 to win the World Cup. However, they will likely draw inspiration from fellow Central Americans, Costa Rica, who confounded the odds to reach the quarter finals in 2014. That, of course, came at the expense of England, so you can guarantee that Southgate won’t take the Panamanians lightly.

Key Man: Gabriel Gomez – 143 caps and counting for the midfielder whose main job will be to screen the defence. He will likely be very busy in Russia.

And a quick note on England:

KaneThis Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-ND

 

England should qualify with Belgium to reach the Last 16, where one of Colombia, Poland, Japan or Senegal will await them. After that (if successful), they are likely to come up against the likes of Brazil or Germany. The question for many fans is what will constitute success? You could argue that a run to the quarters would give Gareth Southgate’s young side something to build on. 16/1 if you fancy the Three Lions to go all the way.

The World Cup -What would be a “good result” for England?

Russia 2018

Following England at the World cup over the course of my lifetime has been nothing but frustration, pain and disappointment. With the national team on something of a decline, and arguably devoid of any of the World Class players we used to have, the 2018 World Cup has England fans in a mixed frame of mind. In the likes of 1998, 2002 and even 2006, anything short of winning the whole tournament would have been a let down. But what actually constitutes success and failure in the 2018 version?

Obviously, not making it out of the group would be a disaster, Last time around, we had a dicey group and could be partially forgiven for not making the knockout stages. This time however, a failure to progress would surely mean the end of the Southgate era. Belgium provide tricky opposition, and despite being on a 17 match unbeaten run, England should not fear a side who have yet to prove themselves on the biggest of stages. Tunisia and Panama, you would expect without an disrespect, are not on the same playing field as England and anything sort of convincing wins would be a cause for concern.

Then that would leave England in the last 16 possibly with meetings against Senegal, Poland or Colombia (or  Japan if they can cause a surprise). Again, none of these are opposition England should fear, Colombia are not the team that they once were and Poland are something of a one man team. Again, whatever your feelings are on England, you have to believe that, when you look at the teams here, an exit at the Last 16 stage is also something that must be considered a failure. Even if Southgate is “planning for the future”, and I do believe in giving managers a chance, there has to be a line drawn and if he can’t manage this out of the group and past the 4 teams  that are an option in the Last 16, then time for a change.

The Quarter final must be considered  a success. Being one of the Top 8 in the world, and in with the likes of the teams who will be in is a result. A valiant loss to one of the big boys is nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone who reaches the World Cup Quarter Final is a quality side. The Semi Final would be something England have not done for 28 years, and a Final appearance….well, let us not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Either way, this should be a very interesting Summer and with a likeable collection of young, hungry players, playing a likeable style of football, I am sure the nation will be behind the team. What will happen? It is too hard to tell but I for one have a certain degree of optimism that this could be a very happy summer and we may hear those three lions roaring once again. One thing that will happen…..is drama!

Golden Boot Contenders

World Cup Golden Boot

One of the most popular bets placed prior to the World Cup is regarding which player will walk away with the Golden Boot, for netting the most number of goals in the tournament. Usually anyone who nets 5 or more can be hopeful of winning it but let us take a look at some of the leading contenders and assess their chances . Who is your money on?

Lionel Messi – Always likely to lead the betting, and the out right goal machine has a nice easy group to start racking up goals. Although Argentina are happy with a 1-0 win, unlike his club, Messi should be able to push on add to his tally. But will he get enough?

Antonie Grizmann – The closer it gets, the more I am thinking 2018 may just be Griezmann’s year. In an attacking French team, he is the main man and with his current form he is going to be troubling defences. Will France get far enough to allow him to score the 5 or 6 needed though?

Neymar – Proven himself to be one of the worlds best players and almost justifies his price tag, and with a big money move again looming, as well as his desire for revenge on last World cups humiliation, this man may just be the one to watch.

Harry Kane – A goal machine against weak opposition in the Premier League, Harry Kane may just well fill his boots with the matches against Panama and Tunisia. A brace in those games will set him up nicely, and with a price tag of 25/1 in some places, he may well be the man. But you will need to check around and perhaps take a look at football acca tips.

Gabriel Jesus – If Neymar doesn’t deliver for Brazil, then Jesus will be the man too. Whether they both play, and whether there is enough in the team for them both the net enough goals to be contenders. A cheeky bet may have been placed on Jesus by this writer.

Cristiano Ronaldo – A list cannot be a list without the main himself on it. However, as great as he is, carrying this Portugal team to enough wins to make Ronaldo a contender the award may just well be a step too far!

Romelu Lukaku – Similar to the comments on Harry Kane, with a nice easy group, this may play into Lukaku’s hands, a man who traditionally does well against weaker opposition!

If you are betting person, this is going to be a very tough call to make. I don’t see an Italians, Germans  or Spaniards netting enough to contend but all it takes, as happened in 1994, is one hat trick plus in a game and then you are well on your way to nabbing the award. Who are you picking? Who are the outsiders? Any tips for underdogs? Let us know

 

Will Belgium’s golden generation finally come good?

belgium-world-cup-squad-official

Every so often, a nation unearths a golden generation of footballers – not just one or two talented players but a whole group of them, all peaking at same time in terms of ability, experience and availability.

It’s important to capitalise on a so-called golden generation. Spain did, in winning the 2010 World Cup. Germany did by triumphing in 2014. Further back, France’s best squad of players for a generation won the tournament in 1998. It doesn’t always work out, though. Despite a team that included David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney, England couldn’t get past the quarter-finals in 2006.

Now it’s Belgium’s turn to cope with such lofty expectations. Belgium’s current crop of players have been lauded for some time, and make no mistake, it’s the best squad they’ve had for years. Trouble is, now they have to deliver and make a serious impact on the tournament. In 2014, they reached the quarter-finals (losing to Argentina). Two years later, at the European Championships, it was another quarter-final finish, this time exiting at the hands of Wales.

Surely, this Belgium squad is better than simply reaching the last eight of a tournament? That’s the pressure that sits on the shoulders of team coach Roberto Martinez. He may not get another World Cup from this group of players – some of them definitely won’t be around in four years’ time. This, then, is surely the nation’s optimum time for glory. If you’re betting on Belgium with williamhill.com, 888sport.com, unibet or another online provider, you’re sure to find them among the favourites.

Or at least they should be. Belgium’s big build up to the tournament hasn’t exactly been smooth. Martinez took the controversial decision to omit Radja Nainggolan from his squad, citing ‘tactical reasons’. On the face of it, this could be a mistake. Nainggolan is not a conventional player – he’s a bit of a loose cannon – but he could have given Belgium a vital edge in terms of attacking creativity. He’s exactly the type of wild card player who could win a game with a decisive goal from nowhere, and he’d have gone into the tournament off the back of a successful season with Roma.

That’s a strike against Martinez even before a ball was kicked. Then there’s the omission, from the final squad of 23 players, of Christian Benteke. The big striker had a rotten season with Crystal Palace but has a decent international goalscoring record of 12 goals in 34 matches. Without him, Belgium are light in the centre-forward area, with just Romelu Lukaku and Michy Batshuayi (just back from injury) as recognised strikers, though Dries Mertens, primarily a wide player can add support. Nevertheless, it feels like a gamble from Martinez.

There’s also concern over the fitness of captain Vincent Kompany, who suffered a groin injury in the pre tournament friendly against Portugal. This is nothing new of course; Kompany is the wrong side of 30 years of age and his last few years have been blighted by injury. He’s still in the squad but when Belgium’s other central defenders include Thomas Vermaelen, perhaps the only centre-back in world football with a worse injury record than Kompany, Martinez should be worried.

The group draw has been relatively kind on Belgium, who are odds-on to top their table, though England could push them for that. Other group opponents Panama and Tunisia shouldn’t hold any fears. Once into the knockout stages, opponents will come from Group H – Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan. Then, into the last eight – which is the very least Belgium should achieve – a meeting with Brazil or Germany is highly likely.

That’s when we’ll really see how good this Belgium is.

 

 

England at the 2018 World Cup

In my life time of watching football, I am used to pundits, fans and the press hyping up the England teams chances of excelling at a major tournament. But this time around things are different….with new players, a new manager and a long term plan seemingly in place, there is a feeling this World Cup is a stepping stone to greater things. But I assure you not one fan, player or management staff will be thinking that come the big day….just how will England do?

Despite the relative inexperience of the players and manager, England breezed through the qualifiers and whilst never being outstanding, rarely looked troubled. It is the same old story you may say, but the qualifiers can give you a hint. England struggled in the run up games to Euro 2016 and looked vulnerable at times, but not in this campaign.

Gareth Southgate has been to the big tournaments in the modern era and understands what they are all about. The little touches he will bring, as a man of experience, may be the difference in keeping the squad focused. He has quietly built his own system, introduced his own players and got a team functioning as a team. The criticism always levelled at the previous “Golden era” was that we have a collection of individuals rather than a unit….that can no longer.

The wing back system Southgate seems to favour, is one that will be unique in the tournament. Southgate saw that system function superbly under Glenn Hoddle and seems to be set on imitating it. Opposition may not be used to such a style and we say indeed see it work to England’s advantage. The core of the defence remains strong, the wing backs we have offer great potential both defensively and going forward and the system is very flexible.

Even the most pessimistic England fan must sense qualification is likely. Tunisia and Panama are weak sides, and lack the quality and experience to frustrate England for long. The Belgium game will be key and that will tell us all we need to know. Playing against a team unbeaten in 17 matches, with world class players in every position on the big stage will test any team. A victory in that match may allow England to dream big! That will get the nation dreaming and probably thinking about having a flutter perhaps even on NetBet Sport World Cup Betting

Should the group stage prove passable, Senegal and  Colombia await in the Last 16, both of which England would start as favourites. If that occurs and England earn a Quarter final berth, then that will be mission accomplished for Southgate and company. Anything before the Quarter Finals will be labelled a disappointment, anything after it will be an over achievement.

With Kane, Ali, Sterling and co, along with a solid defence and a dependable set of goalkeepers, any of the opposition who England may face in the latter stages would have to take them as a serious threat.

Will going into a tournament without the hype, as something of an underdog, help the team achieve? Only time will tell

If you have a little time on your hands in the build up then why not check out our England or  World Cup Quiz

Russia as a World Cup venue

Russia 2018

The selection of Russia as a venue for the World Cup 2018 was met with much criticism at the time, and as the political dynamic in the world changes, the criticism continues to grow. Never in my lifetime can I remember as much debate about whether a nation is worthy to host a contest in the run up the finals. Well for now anyhow – l suspect it will equally as controversial in 4 years time in Qatar 2022.

Russia itself is a vast vast country and it goes without saying that there is going to be a lot of travelling involved. Russia is the biggest nation ever to host a World Cup and the distance between the furthest two stadiums is equivalent to a continent. For many players and teams it won’t even feel like playing in the same country. One can’t help but feel some ground rules should have been made about which Stadiums should be used, but alas….fans can expect 14 hour train journeys and multiple flights to get across to games. Not ideal? Part of the fun? And what about the affects on players. If you play into the latter stages the air miles these guys will rack up is going to be huge. Travelling across a country will have wear and tear on the bodies and minds of the players. Perhaps we may be surprised by the mental resilience of some of the smaller nations.

There is no doubt the Stadiums are all high tech, with the first final to played on a plastic pitch due this year, the facilities are second to none. Putin and Russian want to impress, they want to showcase Russia to the world and the best way to do that is going to be how  it looks on TV. I expect a huge spectacle, a lavish opening ceremony and a huge focus on the greatness of Russia.

Concerns have been raised with the LGBT community about their safety fears. The last think Russia wants is to have negative press so I hope that they are prepared!

There has been concern about Russian fans, their hardcore hooligans and crime rings. Russian authorities promise big punishments if they are caught and hopefully that will keep things at bay. But I fully expect come June, to see police battling with drunken fans and riots in the streets….a  sad state of affairs in the modern game.

All that aside my favourites will be the French and if you are interested in their odd at this years World Cup check out: https://www.signupbonuses.co.uk/ – why not get a cheeky bonus!

Who will replace Arsene Wenger?

The day seems to be drawing ever nearer when the whole Wenger In/Wenger Out camps will subside and the great man steps down from his throne. Some will dispute labelling Arsene as a great man, but only a fool would downplay what he has done. No other club has qualified in the number of consecutive Champions Leagues that he has guided Arsenal too….yes, they have more often been out of the title picture than in it, but in this day and age when all the top sides improve regularly, to keep that Top 4 placing was a task no other could have achieved.

Arsenal fans should think about what they wish for….there are not many examples in History of clubs who part from long term managers going straight onto to success, and I can’t help but get the feeling that in 12 months times, whoever is in charge at Arsenal will be subject to the same In/Out debates. But let us take a look at some of the contenders….

Carlo Ancelotti  – This seems to be the name of most Arsenal fans lips and given the players at the club, the style of play and the pressure of the role, he ticks all the boxes. Available and with something to prove in the Premier League, backed up with the wealth of experience he could well be the logical choice

Eddie Howe – Will Eddie Howe suffer for being an Englishman and lacking the top level, continental experience of others? Arsenal would be a fool not to consider this man considering the monumental, almost unbelievable job he has done with Bournemouth. One day, Eddie Howe will be in charge at a top 4 club and managing in the champions league, and perhaps Arsenal will be that team.

Antonio Conte – The more the weeks go by the more it appears that Mr Conte will be the latest in a long time of managers to depart Stamford Bridge. Unable to build on last years success, Conte has had many a controversy and seems unsettled, as do the club seem unsure of him.  Maybe a trip across the capital would be happy, but I cant imagine the Arsenal fans being overawed with this appointment?

Mikel Arteta – One of the bookies favourites at Novibet Sports, but to get rid of a man who has guided Arsenal to all those Top 4 places and trophies and replacing him with a guy who has never managed a club before, let alone one the size of Arsenal, would seem rather foolish and short sighted.

Jochiam Loew – Now we are talking, fresh eyes to the Premier League, a novel approach, a proven winner…what more could you want as an Arsenal fan?

Whatever happens, Wenger’s departure is going to take time to recover from and time to put right. Arsenal fans may have to accept they will suffer similar to the immediate post-Fergie Manchester United (who some may argue are yet to recover fully) but whoever takes the job at the Emirates will have to also accept the pressure and expectations that are going to follow.

Manchester City – Is this the start of a dynasty?

Finally, after months of it being inevitable, Manchester City were eventually crowned the 2018 Premier League champions when Manchester United failed to beat bottom side West Brom. Indeed, the title race has been considered over for so long, that the papers for the past few months have been filled with articles looking at the current Manchester City side, whether it can be considered to greatest team of all and what the future folds.

The question we should be asking needs to look more toward the future….is this the start of a dynasty? What are the odds of Pep emulating Sir Alex Ferguson? Have a look at Big Free Bet Predictions to see what they think! Manchester City have dominated this season in the Premier League but fell short in the Champions League. Ever since that first Premier League title since the influx of the billions of pounds, they have always been on the verge of taking that next time from title winners to greatness. In that time period they have lost league titles to Leicester, failed to ever really be taken seriously as Champions League contenders and not been able to translate the league form into the dynasty building dominance that will lead them to a dynasty building future.

The fact remains, and what history tells us is clear….you cannot build a dynasty based on one season and usually a dynasty is built up over a course of multiple season, with an ever evolving squad. What City need to do therefore is take this bunch of players, hold onto the core and build around them. There is no reason why the leading stars of the team should move to another club, but the lure of the major Spanish clubs will always pose a threat to any logic. Keeping a team together and retaining players is key!

In addition, the management structure has to remain. The most successful teams in the Premier League, and the only real team you can class as  a dynasty was Alex Fergusons Manchester United which was built around the manager. Manchester City, to repeat that feat, need to stick by their head man, even if next season doesn’t produce a Champions League trophy or indeed retains the Premier League…but is Pep a man to stick around to build a dynasty? History would suggest not.

It is not a stretch to say that next season is crucial for Manchester City in terms of what the future lies. Are they destined to be the big money team who only gets it right once every few years and spends the rest of the time trailing? If was refreshing to see that the immediate reaction of Vincent Kompany upon winning the league title was a call to retain it next year. After all, it takes a good team to win the title and a great team to retain it.

Manchester City have everything they could possibly need to build a dynasty….great players, a winning mentality, a growing fan base  and the manager any club would want at the helm. It will be a fascinating journey to see where this team can go and whether we are at the start of a new era or merely another false dawn.

 

FIFA World Cup – Win or Lose

As the football calendar is quickly ticking off the passing days towards the summer event of the year, we going to take a cheeky little look at the ways to make this cold Russian hosted tournament a little more heated.

We take a look at the ways of betting inside an online casino because when the tournament kicks off the TV will be littered with hundreds of casino adverts with offers of free bonuses and betting ways to win extra cash, which is a good thing, right? So where to begin? Well, the big companies will pay top dollar to get their voice out there but they may not be the best deals so always begin with a comparison site that offers you several casinos with sports betting options, the best ones are often the British and Canadian online casino sites which the latter may surprise you but it’s testament as to how nuts the Canadians are for their sports, so credit where credit due. Now the Canada team may be out of the tournament but their casinos won’t stop giving you a huge deluge of betting options when the event kicks off!

Tactical Betting for Hot Summer Wins 

Now, predicting outcomes in these events is possible the hardest gamble, teams across the groups are very much unknown as most punters follow their own national leagues, so it’s very hard to grasp an understanding of the teams and how they perform, even England have seemed to turn the corner recently of actually scoring in the first half of games. During the qualifying rounds, the number of 0-0 draws at half time would have brought back a pretty penny if you had betted on the consistent trend of England’s first-half performances.

Outright win bets will come with very minimal returns when you have the likes of Germany, Brazil, Spain, and Argentina all playing teams with less experience and, arguably less talented players. When it comes to the games you need to be entertaining the idea of in-game bets. Options of total corners where, for example, you can select a total of over 8 corners before the kickoff and double your money with a 2.00 odd. Even during the game, you can gauge the total corner amount. Now with these high odds better than selecting a 1.50 winner, imagine the return if you select 6-9 games with a £$5 bet. With mighty teams playing minnows, it’s a guarantee the box will be bombarded and thusly increasing the corner count.

The penalty choice always comes in high, to score a penalty in a game carries anything between 8.50 to 10.00 odds. Again with clever players out on the pitch, the invisible sniper will be out to pick off players as they display acrobatic twists and turns mid-air to win a chance at an easy goal.

World Cup

Fact or Fiction 

Knowing your facts about a team can assist your betting, being a quiz site, those more attune to the facts of football often come up trumps when betting. Learn about certain player behaviours, for example, did you know Lionel Messi averages a goal a game for Argentina? However, did you also know only 5 have been scored in World Cup tournaments? Now the bookies will trick you into putting money down on him to be top scorer this year, opt for a less conventional bet that Messi will get less than 3 goals and let the fact pay off.

Don’t thing outright and look at the game pattern to select your ways of winning this summer so you can lift you bank balance whilst the teams fight to lift the trophy.

Liverpool’s Champions League Chances

With the hunt for the league title now gone, and a top 4 place all but secured, Liverpool will be focusing the latter stages of the Champions League, and whoever lies next in wait will not wanting to be playing a Anfield in the next round.  But how far can Liverpool go? Are they genuine contenders for Champion League glory?

If everything falls into place, Jurgen Klopp has one of the most dynamic, fluid and dangerous attacking line ups in the Champions League. Despite the sale of arguable their most unique player, Mo Salah is coring for fun and when  Mane and Firmino hit top stride, there is very little defences can do to cope with them. But can they sustain these over 2 legged affairs with the very best sides in Europe?

Liverpool have shown far too often, in the biggest of games, that Klopp’s style does not win out on a consistent basis and there have been several times this season, including the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford this past weekend, when the team have failed to click and looked rather pedestrian and average. If a defence can unite to keep Salah and Mane under wraps, Liverpool over very little else with the midfield struggling to create. This may help them against the lower end of the Premier League sides, but on the biggest stage of them all, it will cost them. Their win against Porto in the Last 16 was very impressive but bigger, tough sides await and even the English teams they may face during their run can cause them problems.

When you add in the state of the Liverpool defence, even with the addition of Virgila Van Dijk, it doesn’t provide a very positive outlook. Yes, to give credit where it is due, Liverpool have reached the quarter final stage, and as they have proven in the past anything is possible at this stage, but watching Liverpool does not inspire you with confidence they can beat 3 better teams to lift the trophy.

Getting to the final will be the harder task than winning it…if they do reach the final and Salah,  Mane and Firmino hit strides, they can trouble anyone and outscore any team. But beating one of the remaining teams over 2 legs, with a suspect defence and goalkeeper may be out of their reach. Is there a team remaining in the last 8 who you would expect Liverpool to beat? Perhaps not…Juventus have proven they have the defensive capability to keep Liverpool quiet, the remaining English sides would all fancy their chances over two legs and Real Madrid and Barcelona will relish playing against that back four at Anfield.

If Liverpool fans had a realistic head on their shoulders, they should recognise that a season ending in 3rd place in the league and having made the quarter finals of the champions League, is certainly an achievement in itself and certainly something to be proud of. Yes there is no silverware to cherish, but in a season when a club have sold their best player, and have had to contend with impressive Manchester teams, then that is no small achievement at all.

The England Outsiders Who Could Still Make The World Cup Squad

Gareth Southgate’s recent England squad caused quite the stir among Three Lions fans and pundits alike. There were a few surprise additions to the team and some faces missing that really didn’t warrant the snub.

It’s all making for an interesting end to the Premier League season as Southgate looks to pick his final 23-man squad. His side didn’t do themselves any harm against the Netherlands on Friday night, with the likes of Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire and Kieran Trippier all getting ever closer to booking their spots on the plane. But who’re missing? And who could be the outside shots to make it to Russia 2018?

Jack Wilshere

 It was a huge shame for Jack Wilshere, who had to pull out of the recent squad due to injury. He’s worked so hard to get back into both the Arsenal and international fold and fully deserved to get a start in the heart of England’s midfield.

He’s certainly one of most pundits World Cup tips to go still if he’s fit as almost every England manager he’s played under has appreciated his quality with the ball. It’s something they could very well need, with Eric Dier, Jake Livermore and Jordan Henderson the other likely contenders for that central midfield spot.

Gary Cahill

While Gareth Southgate said he’d only pick players who were playing, it was still a surprise to see Chelsea’s Gary Cahill miss out on a place in Southgate’s recent squad. He’s struggling to get a game at Chelsea but his leadership and experience could be a valuable asset to England.

Managers of the nation do usually pick an experienced man within their squad and with only Joe Hart having more than caps than in and around the England set-up, Cahill could be the likely choice.

Glenn Murray

 A lot of fans were hoping to see Glenn Murray put on an England shirt in the recent friendlies but instead Southgate opted for Danny Welbeck. What Murray offers is something different, but it will now take great courage from the manager to drop someone in place of a player who is yet to be tried or tested at international level.

The England strike force does currently look a little one dimensional though. They have Kane as an all-round talent and then on top of that just a number of pacey forwards who like to get in and behind defenders. What happens when England need to go direct? Or Southgate needs someone to hold the ball up at the other end of the pitch? It’s a worry and Murray could be the answer.

Ben Mee

 James Tarkowski was given a call up in the recent squad by Gareth Southgate and it can be argued Ben Mee deserves one just as much. The centre half places are well and truly up for grabs in this squad and Mee could be an outside bet if he continues to shine.

He’d be an ideal replacement should any injuries occur as he’s been a shining light at the heart of Burnley’s defence all season. We’re sure many would love to simply pluck both Mee and Tarkowski from the Clarets back line and place them straight into the England team they’ve been that sound defensively. Of all the players England fans may argue about being in or out of the squad, we doubt any would argue against Mee warranting a place.

Man United V Liverpool Post Match Analysis

Liverpool v Man Utd

The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United takes on an especially more reverent tone when the two teams are within close proximity in the league. With the league title out of reach, and both teams looking secure in the top four, the match up on Saturday was perhaps the biggest domestic game the teams had left.

Prior to the game, the focus had been on the tactics of Jose Mourinho…what approach would he take? Would he park that ever popular bus? He surprised everyone from the off by giving Marcus Rashford his first start of 2018 and boy, did that pay off!

Manchester United see Liverpool as their main rivals, and the Old Trafford faithful seem to have really played this up the further Manchester City become out of reach, and hence Old Trafford was louder than it has been for some time. It can be quite demotivating to a fan base, used to winning, to be so far behind their city rivals in second,  but to beat Liverpool is a must for any Manchester United Manager.

United looked strong throughout and Liverpool rarely threatened, evidenced by the fact that it took a rather comical own goal from Eric Bailly to give them hope. Mo Salah, prolifically free scoring all season, was marked out of the game and Mane, Firmino and Milner failed to get control. Liverpool looked out of ideas and the fast, free flowing fizzing football they have been playing under Klopp was attempted, but had no chance of breaking down a resilient United.

The pressure applied to the known weakness of Dejan Lovren paid off and the ever imposing threat of Roman Lukaku bullying the back for was just too much. The goals United scored showed a tactical awareness of these defensive weakness and both goals emerged from long balls aimed at the weak centre backs, of which Rashford was able to take control.

With England manager Gareth Southgate watching on, his eyes must surely have lit up seeing the electric form of Rashford, causing problems for the defensive, clinical finishing and an eye for goal.  If this form continues, surely he has to be in the world cup plans as a starter? You can check out his odd with Mobilebet Voucher Code 2018 An on for Rashford may also be the key to United sticking with 2nd place.

But will 2nd place be satisfying to United fans? Even the most hardened pro-United anti-City resident of Old Trafford must admit that they are by far the second best team in the league this season, and that coming 2nd is an achievement. With 6 teams now competing for the top 4 spaces, United remain ahead of everyone who-is-not-Man-City. The worry will be how they can move on an breach that gap? Seville come to Old Trafford in the Champions League this week in what will be another test for this emerging team. Could a run to the final of the Champions League be the spur to set United up for a title challenge next season? Only time will tell…

 

Struggling Arsenal managed to win against Newcastle

footy

The recent performance of Arsenal has not been good so far. After being beaten by both the Manchester teams, they could not even earn the valuable points in their recent matches against Southampton and West Ham. That is the reason they are placed at the fourth spot after Manchester United and Chelsea in the Premier League table.

Therefore, the recent win against Newcastle must be a huge relief for Wenger whose team is currently five points lagging behind Chelsea. Mesut Ozil did the magic in the 23th minute of the game for the struggling Arsenal and remained till the end of the game. It was a brilliant first half volley that got them the lead.

However, this game also showed the problem which has been recurring throughout the season for Arsenal- not being able to take the chances which they create. Seeing the huge quality difference between the two teams, the dominance from the Arsenal side should have been complete. However, we did not see that happen. Though the win was not as convincing as it should have been, however a win is still a win and the Arsenal’s celebration is not out of place.

The Arsenal side would now be playing against West Ham in their next match. That game is expected to be easy for them. However, the game after that could be a real challenge for them as they will be up against the stronger opponent Liverpool. That is a game which might be of interest for both fans and punters around the world. If you are punter, you could avail from free bets and get bonus codes and know sign up offers from all the top rated UK betting sites. Read reviews for the valuable information or follow the tips for becoming a smart punter. Closely follow all the latest offers of Betfred, Paddy Power, Betway, Coral and all the others, so you can choose the one that fits you the best.

The experiments of Arsenal coach Wenger seemed to work well against the Newcastle team. He brought in Ainsley Maitland-Niles while Alexandre Lacazette was placed for Olivier Giroud.

Although Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez became close to scoring, however the lead came only after the 20th minute of the game. Ozil showed a perfect combination of grace and power to give his team a lead early in the game. When the ball came to Ozil, he used his left leg to deliver the volley past Rob Elliot despite the fact that he was off balance and that he had the time to bring the ball down.

Later, Wenger appreciated that goal calling it “superb” and further commending him in such words: “Usually, he is the guy who 99 per cent of the time in this position, controls the ball and gives it someone else.”

Arsenal were looking very good in the first half of the game. However, by the second half their game looked more defensive. It felt like they had secured the win, and therefore the point of urgency was devoid from their game. Ultimately they prevailed, yet one could see that it was a lot tense towards the end of the game than it should have been.

If we talk about the Newcastle team, the situation for them is looking pretty grim now. Rafa Benitez would definitely have been dissatisfied with the performance of his team. But looking at their performance so far, it was not to be expected that they would win this game. It is been their eighth defeat of the previous nine games, and therefore has seen them drop down to the eighteenth position of the Premier League table, ahead of West Brom and Swansea City only. Benitez has been trying to bring his team up by imploring his players to strengthen their attack and exploit the weaknesses of the opposite team, but so far they have not worked.

 

 

The Newcastle Problem

In the mid 1990s Kevin Keegan performed something of a revolution at St James Park and against the odds turned Newcastle United into title contenders. Not only that, but during the 1995-1996 season he led Newcastle unto a 12 point lead, so convincing that many bookmakers paid out on them lifting the trophy.  They went onto to several 2nd place finishes and had a good run…but then it all went wrong! The nights at the Nou Camp and the consecutive Cup Finals seem oh so long ago now for the toon army faithful and seemingly for the last decade a spiral of decline has been in place. Many blame Mike Ashley….but have the fans got a role to play in this?

The issue can be dated back to that 1995-1996 season when Newcastle thought they had the title won. The 12 point lead was broken down, the title was lost and in my eyes the club never recovered. It was at this stage that fans began to view the club as bigger and more important that it actually was on a national scale. Other than Alan Shearer, Newcastle failed to capture big name players, those players to take them to the next level, and the fans couldn’t understand why and turned on the manager, the club and the director. The simple fact is, that without a winning history, without those trophies and without that special appeal Newcastle were not able to attract who they needed to stay in place….they joined a long list of the teams who have had 2-3 seasons of wonder and faded away.

This “big club” mentality feeds down and the fans got impatient with managers, proven guys like Sam Allardyce were pushed out when in all fairness, better jobs could have been done with time. Newcastle couldn’t understand why two relegations occurred and, more of an issue perhaps, the 6 back to back defeats to local rivals Sunderland.

It all foes down to what I call the Newcastle Problem…..that the club and the fans see them as bigger than they are. Yes they have a loyal fanbase with a huge stadium that is sold out whoever the opposition is…but this doesn’t put them on a par with the top 6 teams in the Premier League.

If Newcastle can just get to grips with the fact they are a middling Premier League team, expect the odd relegation battle and perhaps a drop in division and build from there, they can function much better than they now do. Rafa Benetiez has crafted a team for the Championship which they won, but then wasn’t given the support to make them a Premier League team. And what has this been hampered by? All the sale talks…..which hinge on the factor I have mentioned before, Newcastle are not the club they believe they are and that is why they are not getting the right buyer with the right price.

A whole new mentality is needed at St James, more akin to local rivals Sunderland, or selling clubs like Southampton, if they are to turn themselves into Premier League mainstays once again. Until then, I pity the Toon Army as they will continue to be just a footnote….

Who will finish in the top 4?

If someone would have told me at the start of the season when writing this article that one team would be running away with the title, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are with 2018 beginning and every football fan with any common sense must sense that the league title race is over. Manchester City are not only picking up the points, but doing so in a style that suggest they will never be stopped. I hear fans from time to time hark back to the days when Newcastle, in the 1995-1996 season, where 12 points clear at this stage only to lose out to Man United……we are talking about different teams. Keegan’s Toon Army were a attacking machine but lacked the quality Manchester do. Newcastle got results by outscoring, not necessarily outplaying, teams whereas Manchester City are dominating every game from the first to the last moment. It would take a brave betting man to think they will blow it from here!

In a nutshell, assuming it is over let us take a look at the 5 teams aiming to fill the other 3 places in that top 4…

Manchester United – Somewhat a fall from grace as 2017 came to a close. As the season began it was United getting the rave reviews and plaudits and many predicting they would run away with the league but it simply hasn’t happened, and with several players form up and down, unless something major clicks they are going to struggle to hold on to second. Still, I believe they have enough firepower to secure that Top four place. Prediction – 2nd

Arsenal – Amidst all the Wenger out chants and contract disputes, Arsenal have kept on winning game, including some against top 4 rivals. Quietly, but surely, Arsene Wenger has got his side singing off the same hymn sheet and it all seems to be going well. Although the extensive demands of the Europa League may play into matters, Arsenal look good and if they hit form at the right time of the season could have a very happy fan base when the season ends . Prediction – 3rd

Chelsea – Solid, secure and pick up wins when they need to. Without having that X factor that City and United possess they are vulnerable to the odd shock but Conte should find himself in the Champions League next season. Prediction – 4th

Salah

Liverpool – Free scoring and fun to watch but the rate of goals and impressive results will fade. The champions League will take a toll and Van Dijk is not enough to make that defence work. Prediction – 5th

Spurs – Anything is possible when Harry Kane lines up in your side, but Spurs stuttered at the start of the season and have stuttered ever since. Already playing catch up, the fixtures don’t look kind to Spurs and they will have to endure another season without Champions League football next year…let us just hope thus doesn’t turn Harry Kane’s head

London Stadium V Wembley Stadium

Manchester City have dominated the Premier League this season, however it is in London where the most impressive stadiums are, with West Ham residing in the London Stadium and Spurs currently playing their home games at Wembley Stadium while they wait on their new stadium to be completed.

West Ham have seen recent improved performances and results, while Spurs have been struggling as of late, meaning that the best Premier League odds on a Spurs win are likely to be now.

For West Ham, they only had a short move to their new stadium, with the new ground being around four miles from their old Boleyn Ground, while Spurs have twelve miles to travel to reach their temporary Wembley home. We have compared the two stadiums to see which stadium is the best value for their fans in the following infographic.

PP (FOOTBALL) Stadium Comparison

Test your knowledge of Premier Leagues Top Scorers

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Since the inception of the league in 1992, the Premier League has been home to some sensational and clinical goal scorers. English striker Alan Shearer currently leads the way with the most Premier League goals, but there have been multiple players that have made it into the ‘100 Club’. The performances of these goal scorers competing in the league means that many Premier League odds bookmakers now allow betters to guess what players will score during a match.

Football is not an easy game to predict, so it can be quite difficult to guess who will score during a match. However in certain scenarios it can be quite easy to make a calculated guess on who will score. By trying this quiz, you can test out your knowledge on Premier League goal scorers and whether each player has scored more or less goals than the number given?

Check out the Quiz here.

Which team will in this year’s Champions League

As investment in the game rises and new clubs come to the fore, the influx of world class players and clubs previously not deemed contenders for the Champions League, the elite competition in Europe, and interest in the game reaches fever pitch….the Champions League becomes more important than ever. The qualification is over; the group draw is done and after the international break the competition itself. Each year there are shocks, surprises, classic games  and world class football….but the questions is, in one of the most competitive seasons in living memory, just who will win the Champions League.

I think it is fair to say that the Champions League winner this season is likely to come from only a handful of countries so let us look at each nation step by step and see what they can offer. Also, on the off chance you’re a gambling man and you enjoy betting on the Champions League then a great site to take a look at is Footy Accumulators as they offer daily football tips for all of the biggest games.

Starting in Spain, look no further than Real Madrid as the odds on favourites. Easily the best team in the contest last season, and deserved winners, Real look solid and have the attacking flair and defensive might to defeat any team on their day. Barcelona have been rocked by the departure of Neymar, breaking up the MSN partnership, but they still have enough quality and experience to make a challenge. They may have missed key transfer targets and lack the “galactico feel” of Madrid but they should never be counted out.

Over in France, with Monaco losing the majority of their top players, the only Champions League winner potentially comes in the form of mega rich PSG who have boosted their attacking might with Mbappe and Neymar and will be irresistible in attack. They still have a lot to prove on the big stage to show they have the steel and grit to compete, but rule them out at your peril.

The only Italian hope is really Juventus who already look solid in the season, with a well-grounded squad, defensively the best set up in the continent and a wonder goal machine in the form of Dybala. They are my outside bet to life the trophy and even the finest attackers around may struggle to penetrate the Old Lady.

In terms of the German teams, I am sorry to say, that Bayern simply have not kept up with rivals. They have not spent big, they have not improved and they risk falling behind the European elite. The Germans always prove us wrong and seeing them in the Semi Final would not surprise me, but I rate their chances of making it all the way very slim.

Finally, the English clubs have 5 teams in this year and the only one I would rule out as contenders are Spurs. Lacking in experience and the poor home form at Wembley mean it could be a very short run. As for the others…Chelsea have been there before and have added plenty of quality, Manchester City are as strong as ever in attack but again need to prove it on the big stage and Liverpool have a front three to rival any in the word. But the one big contender, especially with his second season streak, is Manchester United and the Special One. Deep squad, plenty of goals, solid at the back….I can see Manchester United taking some beating in this year’s Champions League!

 

Prediction: Manchester United

One to Watch: Juventus

What happened to Wimbledon?

I am just about young enough to remember a time when a Wimbledon side, led by Vinnie Jones and a hard hitting squad of English players, was topping the Premier League table. Indeed, the fabled cup win from 1988 is still fresh in the conscious as is their dramatic rise from obscurity to the top flight. But within a few years of that triumphant run to the top of the Premier League Wimbledon had collapsed, were out of business and reformed under the banner of two new clubs! MK Dons are essentially the team Wimbledon were but the AFC Wimbledon club is the one with the heart.

So what happened and can another other teams learn a lesson from this demise?

Wimbledon found them in the Premier League at a time when the money was starting to grow. It was nothing in comparison to what a middling team can earn in the division today, but still the money was flooding in and everyone around was investing in cheap foreign players with a new technique, new skills and a raised standard. The league began to be graced with the finest players in the world and with a push to getting in the Champions League the top half a dozen Premier League clubs began to invest. Wimbledon didn’t….even in the season they looked on for a top 6 finish; they did not spend the money. The club had been built on the premise of hard hitting English players with a certain style of play that worked well in the 1980s but was not compatible with the modern day game. They did not change with the times and that was one of their major issues!

They didn’t learn the earlier lesson from 1988 when they shocked the world and won the FA Cup, taking down Liverpool on their way, and were the talk of the nation. At that point they could have set aside time to build for the future and establish a club that could repeat the feat. They were the most talked about team in England and yet they did not back this up by going after players to improve.

The relocation issues did not help. Crowded in London, being an unfashionable team and not able to draw crowds who would rather flock to the more fashionable and successful clubs, drove the clubs owners into the controversial move to Milton Keynes which killed the heart of Wimbledon.

At the end of the day, a lack of ambition killed Wimbledon. This probably comes from always being the underdog and always being “the little club done well”. But that can only last so long in an industry where money talks and the game moved beyond what Wimbledon were all about.  They failed to adapt to the changing game, stuck to their roots of old fashioned English players and it backfired. There will never be another club like Wimbledon, and the absence of the club is sadly one of the many casualties of the modern game in the Premier League mega-money era of English football.

List of Premier League Main Sponsors

The Premier League is one of the best things that ever happened in the realm of football. Apart from World Cup, this is the other football league competition that attracts every football fan out there. It does not matter which team you support, the Premier League is relevant to every person who enjoys watching football.

Every year, it runs from the months of August after the FA Community Shield to May. However, unknown to many is that the world’s most popular football league competition normally works closely with a select group of partners as well as licensees to bring to us the event. Below are some main Premier League sponsors;

  1. EA Sports 

 

EA Sports is a household name when it comes to video games. In fact, it is one of the leading video games companies globally. The entity together with the Premier League has had a long term partnership since 2010. Last year it announced that it had expanded the partnership deal with the Premier League, becoming its biggest partner through to 2019.

  1. Barclays Bank

Barclays is one of the biggest banks in the world with presence in nearly every country. It is one of the main sponsors of this football league contest, which is currently in its second month. Over the last one and a half decades, the bank has enjoyed a great partnership with the Premier League as their financial services provider and title sponsor. It remains the banking partner of the League until the end of the next season. Whether or not Barclays will renew its commitment to support the League after 2019, it is something we are looking forward to finding out soon enough.

  1. Cadbury

Cadbury along with the Premier League have come together to begin an incredible partnership, starting from the beginning of this season. This move brings together two major global brands that have tremendous popularity across the globe.

For Cadbury, which is one of the world’s favourite chocolate brands, this adds to the brand’s history of important partnerships, and offers another opportunity for it to bring moments of excitement to millions of Premier League fans. The entity is expected to execute this exciting partnership with Premier League in many different ways that will entertain both players and fans

  1. Nike

 

When it comes to the Premier League, one of the key partners that come into mind is Nike. This American brand has been the official match ball provider to the Premier League for more than a decade and a half. This year it will be the 16th time for which the sports items and sportswear company has provided match balls for the League.

Conclusion

Although we have only listed four, there are many other key sponsors to the Premier League this season and the subsequent ones. From Carling and TAG Heuer, through to SportingiD and so on, the list of brands that sponsor this top football league event today is endless. Do not forget to visit the Euro Palace Casino for exciting Premier League betting.

Lightning Start from Napoli Gives Them a Chance to Win Serie A

Napoli

SSC Napoli Logo” by Tanzen80 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When you think about who will win Serie A, Napoli aren’t the first team you always think of and they have often remained in the shadow of the bigger clubs. However, a lightning start has taken them to the top of the league after seven games, and with some big clubs in behind them, they are in the driving seat right now. It remains to be seen whether they can stay there, but after watching them play this season, the signs are good, and they look set for a strong Serie A challenge.

Napoli have put together a hugely impressive start at both ends of the pitch to lead the chasing pack in Serie A. They have scored an impressive 25 goals from their seven league games, giving them the best goal scoring record in the division. Couple that with the fact that have conceded only five goals, giving them the joint-third best defensive record in the division, it is easy to see why they have caught the eye of many Serie A fans.

The big guns have all started well. Juventus and Inter Milan are both unbeaten, while Lazio and Roma have lost just once this season. Napoli are leading the way and overshadowing them, however, and if they can continue this run then all eyes will be on them as they look to lift the league title for the first time since the Diego Maradona-inspired 1989-90 season.

The latest Serie A betting has Napoli at 11/8 to win the title after their impressive start, although Juventus remain favourites with the bookmakers. That is sure to change if Napoli can continue their good run and are able to pull away from Juventus even further over the coming weeks.

 

The shining star so far this season for Napoli has once again been their striker Dries Mertens. After scoring 28 goals in 35 games for them last season, he currently has seven goals from seven games this season in an electric start. If Napoli are to land the league title they have been building towards for a number of years then he is going to be a key piece in their challenge, it is vital that he remains healthy and in-form.

The next few weeks are going to be fascinating to watch in Italy, with a number of huge games coming up. In October, Napoli will travel away to face Roma and then face Inter Milan at home, while Juventus will face both Lazio and AC Milan in the coming weeks. We also have a Milan derby to look forward to later this month, a game that is always a great spectacle for fans to enjoy, and this year is sure to be no different.

The start of the Serie A season has been a fantastic spectacle and with Napoli laying down a marker, it is time for Juventus to respond. These two look set for a battle all season long that is going to be great for neutrals and invested supporters alike.

Who has done the best business in this transfer window?

Transfer Window

The mad rush of the summer transfer window is finally over and we can now start to assess which teams have had the greatest of successes in the transfer window. Clubs will never be able to please all of the fans all of the time, and hence you may disagree with the choices, but these are the 5 Premier League clubs who have had the best transfer window –

  1. Manchester United – Jose was sitting relaxed on transfer deadline day as all his business was done early and done well, as proven by their thumping start. Lukaku is a goal machine, a striker with a proven hit record and a game changer. But the most important signing may well prove to be Matic who completes the United jigsaw and will be there in the engine room to drive the team onwards to glory on many fronts.

 

  1. Everton – Not only can you class the return of a motivated and England-free Wayne Rooney as one of the best singings of the summer, but bringing in someone with proven premier league experience such as Mr Sigurdsson and you have a team who are solid from 1-11 and with good back up. Holding onto Ross Barkley may also prove to be a useful move once the later stages of the league and Europa League hit.

 

  1. Liverpool – Staying on Merseyside and with Mo Salah and the Ox firming up the team they have improved in the quality of their attack. Holding onto to Coutinho may prove to be handy should he start to be included in the team, but Mo Salah creates a front line three with Firmino and Mane that looks unstoppable. Yes not tempting VVD away from St Marys is disappointing and there are defensive questions, but Liverpool should be pleased with the window.

  1. West Brom – Not the most fashionable of clubs but look at who they have brought in and you will see why WBA are being talked about as contender’s for a Top 10 finish. Proven Premier League players such as Gibbs and Barry to add to the new blood in the team makes for an exciting prospect indeed.

 

  1. Chelsea – Finally landed Llorente to add to the fire power provided by the arrival of Morata gives Chelsea chance to move away from reliance on want away Diego Costa. But one of the best signings of the window may indeed prove to be Danny Drinkwater. Reunited with Kante the Chelsea midfield, with Bakayoko involved in the mix, makes a solid team who will be hard to beat.

What about the worst business? One of the contenders must be Newcastle United who have not invested to match the ambition of the fans or indeed Rafa Benitez. With a lack of proven premier league quality and a slow start to the season, nerves must be shaking at St James Park and without a huge recruitment in January, they will have a long season.

What has though been odd about this window is the battle for players to leave clubs, and their insistence to stay…never before have we seen such sagas together as Coutinho, VVD and Sanchez. It has made for a rather uncomfortable and, at times, dull series of events,

So the transfer talk can subside for the time being and we can look forward to the start of the Champions League, the Premier League to start taking shape and all the usual dramas that come with a football seasons. Buckle your seat belts as its going to a bumpy ride…

 

A High, a Low and a Close One: Brighton’s First Top-Flight Adventure

The 2017/18 Premier League season will be Brighton’s first in the top flight since 1982/83. Back then, Margaret Thatcher was preparing to embark on a second term of office, Spandau Ballet’s True sat proudly atop the charts, and a future king was only just learning to walk. Although 1983 signalled the start of a drab era in the club’s history, the previous four years had been a very remarkable story of defiance.

Having been tipped for promotion last year by Sports Predictor, Brighton & Hove Albion (if nothing else) already boast a story which has produced material perfect for a pub quiz. To that end, three events from the club’s first top flight adventure stand out prominently from the rest…

Between the Goldstone Ground and the Falmer Stadium, Brighton played at the Withdean Stadium, which has become synonymous with some of the club’s darkest moments from the past three decades.

  1. The opening act

Brighton are scheduled to open the club’s second top-flight adventure with a home match against Manchester City. The two-time Premier League champions are the bookies’ favourites to lift the domestic game’s biggest trophy again, and as such, there are distinct echoes back to Brighton’s very first top flight season. Alan Mullery’s men opened the 1979/80 First Division with a match against giants Arsenal at the Goldstone ground – and duly received a 4-0 roasting.

Difficult though the 1979/80 proved to negotiate, Brighton’s first ever away win in the top flight came against none other than reigning European champions Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

  1. Anfield rapped

The Seagulls held their own in the interim years, but by the 1983 New Year, Brighton were in the throes of a dismal season that would end in relegation. Unsurprisingly then, nobody gave Brighton a prayer when a beleaguered squad travelled to Anfield in February 1982 to take on reigning league champions Liverpool. Then managed by the apparently invincible Bob Paisley – who was, in fact, six months from handing the reins over to Joe Fagan – the Reds dominated proceedings. However, the day would be Brighton’s.

By now under the stewardship of Jimmy Melia, Brighton performed with the sort of spirit that had been sorely lacking in the league. A Kop End goal from Gerry Ryan gave Brighton the lead, before Craig Johnston equalised. In a perfect climax, former Anfield hero Jimmy Case leathered the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar for the winner.

Brighton’s FA Cup adventure of 1983.

  1. Wembley heartache

High on the pomp that only a win at Anfield can ever create, Brighton dispatched Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday to set up what remains the club’s most recent cup final to date. Brighton’s opponents were Manchester United, and though the Red Devils were not yet the colossus they would become in due course, they were nonetheless heavy favourite to lift the cup.

In a spirited performance worthy of the Rocky film franchise, the blue half of a 99,000-strong Wembley erupted into raptures when Gordon Smith opened the scoring on 14 minutes. Goals from Frank Stapleton and Ray Wilkins put Manchester United ahead, but Gary Stevens equalised just three minutes from time to take the final to a replay.

No doubt exhausted by their superlative exploits, Brighton were collectively crushed in the replay, going down 4-0 with two goals from United captain Bryan Robson. It was a sad, and perhaps unjust, end to a season that would precipitate 34 years of misery and frustration in the wilderness of English football.

Unsurprisingly, upon supporting their side to promotion this year, the Brighton faithful beheld their club’s return to the English top flight with tumultuous adulation, showing in no uncertain terms that they are ready to leave the past exactly where it belongs.

Trailblazing Tottenham Trivia: Up for the Cups

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Admittedly, there is a considerable amount of ground to cover before Tottenham can even dare to envisage equalling Arsenal’s haul of three Premier League titles. However, as key moments in Tottenham’s history will indicate, records are there to be set – and broken. Founded in 1882, the club took only 19 years to rack up its first major achievement, and establish itself as a potential goldmine of trivia and ‘pub ammo’.

1901 – Tottenham become first FA Cup-winning amateurs

In winning the 1901 FA Cup final, just seven years before becoming a professional club, Tottenham became the first amateur team to win England’s flagship knockout tournament. The Lilywhites are still the only team to win the cup as a non-league side, and barring a miracle far greater than Leicester’s title win of 2015/16, they will remain so until the very end of time.

Under player-manager John Cameron, Tottenham’s very first FA Cup match of the twentieth century was played on 23 February 1901 against Bury at White Hart Lane. A 2-1 victory saw Tottenham proceed to the quarter-finals, where another home tie – against Reading – yielded a 3-0 win. West Bromwich Albion awaited Tottenham in the semi-final, but the Baggies were somewhat distracted by a relentless fight to regain the club’s top flight status. A 4-0 win for Tottenham set up a final with first division Sheffield United.

The final was played at what is today known as the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. The Blades had only recently secured mathematical survival against relegation, and appeared jaded against a Tottenham side playing without pressure. Despite taking a tenth-minute lead through Fred Priest, Sheffield United eventually buckled, with a brace of goals from Sandy Brown either side of half time giving Tottenham the lead.

Hence the club motto, Tottenham had dared to do, and with 51 minutes played, could now dare to dream. On 52 minutes, Tottenham dared to dwindle, and paid what could have been the ultimate price. An equaliser from Walter Bennett proved to be the last goal of the match, with Tottenham barely clinging to the hope of becoming FA Cup winners.

At 20 stone, William ‘Fatty’ Foulke proved a towering presence in the Sheffield United goal.

Burnden Park was only closed as recently as 1997, but in hosting the replay, it had the privilege of witnessing a unique piece of history. The second encounter was every bit as gruelling as the first, but a well-conditioned Sheffield United went in as 1-0 leaders at halftime, with Fred Priest once more the opening goalscorer.

One can only imagine the rousing speech uttered by John Cameron, but Tottenham came out as an indefatigable force after the break. High on half-time oranges, Cameron himself scored the equaliser just eight minutes into the second half. Further goals, from Tom Smith and Sandy Brown, sealed victory and an F.A Cup win that would echo through the generations to come.

1963 – Tottenham triumph in Cup Winners’ Cup

Tottenham would set another notable record in 1920, when (as a second division side) the Lilywhites gained promotion with a total of 70 points. In today’s second tier, that tally would barely scrape a playoff place – but this was back when only two points were awarded for a win. Tottenham won 32 games from a possible 42 and scored 102 goals, and like the club’s FA Cup win of 1901, it is a record that is now guaranteed to stand the test of time.

Though crowned English champions in 1951, the dawn of the 1960s truly represented Tottenham’s most recent golden era. In 1960/61, the club became the first to win a domestic double, but it was at the end of the 1962/63 season that Tottenham would accomplish that which no other English club had dared to do.

In Jimmy Greaves, Tottenham boasted a striker very much in the mould of present-day hero Harry Kane, who is surprisingly priced at 3/1 and tipped to once more be the Premier League’s top goalscorer next season. After successfully defending the FA Cup in 1962, a Tottenham side managed by Bill Nicholson found itself making a short journey north. The destination was Ibrox, with Glasgow Rangers awaiting the Lilywhites in what promised to be a ferocious cross-border battle.

Already 5-2 up on aggregate, the Tottenham squad that took to the Ibrox pitch on 11 December 1962 could not rest on their laurels. With Tottenham drawing first blood, all realistic fears of a comeback from Rangers were quashed. Beaten though the Rangers squad must have collectively realised they were, the Scottish Cup winners fought a brave and defiant battle to the last:

Now safely through, Tottenham were drawn against Slovan Bratislava in the quarter finals. In front of a 32,000-strong Tehelne Pole Stadion, Nicholson’s side were stunned 2-0 by the Czechoslovakian heavyweights. Humiliated and wounded, Tottenham would be brutal in their vengeance for the return leg. Jimmy Greaves scored twice en route to a 6-0 win over Slovan Bratislava, and there were also goals from Dave Mackay, Bobby Smith, Cliff Jones and John White.

After a brace of relatively straightforward semi-final wins, yielding a 5-2 aggregate victory over Yugoslavian side OFK Beograd, only Atletico Madrid stood in the way of Tottenham and ownership of an unprecedented piece of history. Though Tottenham only had a 2-1 lead by the hour mark, the navy and white section of the Feijenoord Stadium in Rotterdam erupted three times without reply, with a brace of goals from Terry Dyson sandwiching an obligatory Jimmy Greaves goal to give the final scoreline a deceptively slanted look.

With a 5-1 rout of the Spaniards, Tottenham duly became the first ever British team to win a major European cup.

2010 – Tottenham ‘two good’ under Redknapp

Tottenham would go on to win two more European cups, lifting the UEFA Cup in 1972, and again in 1984. The first of those triumphs saw Tottenham become the first British team to win Europe’s secondary club competition. After remaining one of football traditional giants throughout the 1980s, the 1990s and 2000s saw undulating fortunes for the men from the Lane. After a dismal start to 2008/09, Harry Redknapp took the reins and guided Tottenham to mid-table respectability.

The following season, Redknapp’s side defied the odds and finished fourth, to qualify for the Champions League. Tottenham survived the qualifier, against BSC Young Boys, and proudly took their place amongst the European elite for the first time since the competition’s rebranding in 1992. Nobody expected Tottenham to get anywhere near the final – and they didn’t. However, Tottenham had one more record to set.

5th May 2010 – Tottenham beat Manchester City to fourth place with a win at the Ethiad Stadium.

In a group containing the reigning cup holders Inter Milan, Tottenham were a potent force. The Lilywhites scored ten goals in three home matches, including a famous 3-1 win over the holders. Curiously, Tottenham scored eight times in their away matches, but took just two points from nine. In doing so, Tottenham became the first team in history to score two goals or more in every Champions League group game.

Seven years on, Tottenham fans have every reason to be excited ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season, with the club having now finished in the top three for a second consecutive year. Nobody is in any doubt as to which record Tottenham want to smash next. Chelsea’s record title-winning tally of 95 points is impressive, and is likely to remain unbeaten forever. Yet, as the famous motto goes: “to dare is to do” – and attempting to become the first Premier League side to hit 100 points is as big a dare as it gets.

Can Everton Break Into the Premier League Top Four Next Season?

Source: Everton Football Club via Facebook

Everton have been quite busy in the summer transfer window so far. The Merseyside outfit are on a spending spree like never before and have recruited a number of players in order to reinforce their squad for the 2017-18 Premier League campaign. Among the players that the Toffees have signed are attacking midfielder Davy Klaassen from Ajax, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland, defender Michael Keane from Burnley, and forward Sandro Ramirez from Malaga.

England international forward Wayne Rooney has also returned to Everton after leaving Manchester United, while right-back Cuco Martina has switched to Goodison Park following his release from Southampton at the end of the 2016-17 season. There are talks that Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud could make a move to the Merseyside outfit before the summer transfer window shuts.

It seems that Everton are determined to have a very successful 2017-18 campaign. During the 2015-16 season, Koeman’s side ended up seventh, as many as 15 points clear of seventh-placed Southampton. The Toffees are better than the rest of the teams in the Premier League, but are they good enough to merit a place in the top six or even the top four? Given the amount of money the Blues have spent so far this summer and the ambition of the club’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, it would not be far-fetched to suggest that they have their eyes on the Champions League places.

Bookmakers, though, do not seem to be giving Everton too much of a chance of finishing in the top four. According to many bookies, the Toffees are only 10/1 to end up in the Champions League places. One can understand why the odds are so high. The Premier League top six is one of the most competitive in the world, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arenal and Tottenham Hotspur all expected to fight for the Premier League title next season. Given the signings that Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs have already made this summer, it is only going to be more competitive next season than it was in 2016-17.

However, bookmakers do not always get things right. After all, they had Leicester City at 5000/1 to win the Premier League title back in the 2015-16 season. A cheeky wager on Everton to sneak into the top four of the Premier League next season ahead of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur may not be a bad idea, especially with free bets for 2017-2018 already available. Everton ended up only eight points behind sixth-placed Manchester United last season; this time they have a stronger squad, which will enhance their chances of a top-four finish.


Goodison Park walls” (CC BY 2.0) by Ben Sutherland

Arsenal slipped out of the Champions League places last season for the first time in 20 years, while Liverpool just about managed to sneak into the top four. Both the Gunners and the Reds should be in the sights of Everton, who should also be aiming to leapfrog Tottenham next season. True, the North London outfit ended up second in 2016-17 and third in 2015-16, but they do not have a good record at Wembley and could struggle next season.

With players such as Rooney, Morgan Schneiderlin, Barkley and Klaassen in the team, Everton fans should be optimistic about a hugely successful 2017-18 campaign. Big things are happening at Goodison Park at the moment, and one should not be surprised if the Toffees break into the top four next season.

Football moments that defied the odds 

Although the bookmakers usually get it right when offering odds on major football matches, the beautiful game wouldn’t be loved by billions around the world if it didn’t produce the odd upset, the odd miracle or its fair share of fairy tales. 

 Here we take a look at just some unlikely triumphs of days gone by that have sent shock waves around the world! 

Leicester City win the Premier League

Leicester City Quiz

Potentially the greatest upset in the history of professional sport. After spending the majority of the 2014/15 Premier League season fighting to stave of relegation, Leicester City started the following campaign amongst the favourites to be relegated. Boasting one of the league’s lowest budget and with the appointment of the much-ridiculed ‘Tinkerman‘, Claudio Ranieri, few expected anything but another relegation dogfight for the Foxes. 

The bookies got this one completely wrong! Offering pre-season odds of 5,000/1 cost them millions when Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy aloft at the end of one of the most unbelievable seasons ever witnessed. 

Greece win Euro 2004 

Greece had only taken part in a major football tournament twice before, losing every game in both the 1980 European Championships and 1994 World Cup. In the build-up to Euro 2004, many experts had predicted the Greeks to suffer a similar fate in Portugal, especially after being named in the same group as the hosts and European giants, Spain. 

The signs were there that an upset could be on the cards when Greece beat Portugal 2-1 in the opening game of the tournament. Despite not scoring more than one goal in any other game throughout the competition, Greece made it past France, the Czech Republic and then Portugal in the final to seal a famous triumph. 

 Denmark – 1992 Kings of Europe 

Incredibly, Denmark won the European Championships in 1992 despite failing to qualify for the tournament. The Danes were late replacements for Yugoslavia who were disqualified due to the ongoing conflict in the country.  

Euro ’92 was dominated by the ongoing turmoil affecting the political landscape across Europe. As well as the disqualification of a war-torn Yugoslavia, the tournament welcomed a CIS football team (Commonwealth of Independent States) to replace the recently dissolved Soviet Union and also saw a unified Germany compete in a major tournament for the first time in their history.  

After failing to win either of their first two games, Denmark escaped from the group by beating the 1984 champions, France. After beating hosts, Sweden, in the semi-finals, the Danes pulled off a huge shock to beat world champions, Germany in the final by two goals to nil.  

Wimbledon win the FA Cup 

Liverpool, the dominant English side of the 1980’s arrived at Wembley in 1988 with their sights set firmly on a second league and cup double in three seasons. Their opponents that day, the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’. 

The final came just eleven years since Wimbledon were playing in the Southern Football League – the seventh tier of English football. In their second season in the top flight, Wimbledon’s seventh place finish was deemed to be a major over achievement and few gave them a hope of toppling giants, Liverpool at Wembley. 

Vinnie Jones’ crunching challenge on Steve McMahon early in the game set the tone and a solitary Lawrie Sanchez goal was enough to see Wimbledon lift their first ever major trophy in one of the FA Cup’s greatest ever shocks. 

Whether you’re a favourite-backer or believe in the underdog, visit Free Bets where you can sign up and start betting online today.

The greatest ever football comebacks 

 
With less than one month to go until the start of another football season, we take the opportunity to delve into the archives of some of the sport’s greatest comebacks, highlighting why so many of us love the beautiful game.  

 Manchester United vs Bayern Munich – 1999 UEFA Champions League final  

On one famous night in Barcelona, Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team etched their names into English football history as they completed an unprecedented treble in the most dramatic fashion.  

With yet another Premier League and FA Cup double already secure, United arrived at the famous Nou Camp aiming to become the first English club to win Europe’s premier competition since 1984. With 90 minutes on the clock, United were 1-0 down and looked destined to fall agonisingly short. Two stoppages time goals from Teddy Sheringham and then Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned the game on its head and sealed a famous win for The Red Devils.  

Liverpool vs AC Milan – 2005 UEFA Champions League final  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sl-_NuDxiFQ

That famous night in Istanbul – another magical European night for an English team. Milan were sensational in the first half. A first minute goal from defender, Paolo Maldini and a brace from Hernan Crespo saw the Italians race into a 3-0 half-time lead.  

However, in six crazy second half minutes, Liverpool scored three goals to level the match. The Reds managed to hold on heroically in extra-time before emerging victorious after a penalty shootout to seal a fifth European Cup triumph.  

Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain – 2017 UEFA Champions League quarter final, second leg  

In one of the most one-sided defeats in Barcelona’s illustrious history, PSG eased to a 4-0 win in the first leg of their quarter final clash. Few believed Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique, when he insisted his side could still qualify for the next round.  

With 50 minutes gone in the second leg, Barcelona had reduced the aggregate deficit to 4-3, but a goal by Edison Cavani against the run of play seemed to end the Spaniards’ hopes of qualification.   

Goals by Neymar (88), (90+1) and Sergi Roberto (90+5), gave Barcelona a 6-5 aggregate win and capped one of the greatest comebacks ever witnessed.  

Manchester City vs Queens Park Rangers – 2012 Premier League final day  

With Manchester United locked in a battle for the Premier League title with rivals, Manchester City, the ‘Noisy Neighbours’ knew they would be champions if they could match United’s final day result.  
 
Manchester United, in a professional manner, left Sunderland’s Stadium of Light with a 1-0 win, meaning City needed three points at home to QPR.  

As the full-time whistle went at Sunderland, news came through the City were trailing 2-1 at home and United players and fans knew they were on the verge of winning the title.  

Ironically, in a never-say-die attitude that had become the ‘United way’, City scored twice in ‘Fergie Time’ to win 3-2 and seal a first ever Premier League title.  

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Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal’s Highest Earner

Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest Earner

 Alexandre Lacazette Signing Makes Frenchman Arsenal's Highest EarnerSource: Arsenal via Facebook

It has been one of the most anticipated deals of this year’s transfer market, and Arsenal fans can now officially celebrate as their side have completed the signing of French forward Alexandre Lacazette.

The club stated that the 26-year-old striker had agreed to a “long-term contract” for an undisclosed fee, which was later revealed as a five-year deal and a record signing for the club, worth £52m. This smashes the previous record of £42.5m set back in 2013 when Mesut Ozil made the jump from Real Madrid.

Not only that, but the French forward will become the club’s highest earner, with his contract worth a reported £200,000 per week.

Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “I am of course delighted and very proud too because Arsenal is a legendary club. Throughout my childhood, thanks to Thierry Henry and other French players, I always dreamed of playing for this club so today that dream has been fulfilled.”

With Arsenal last tasting league success back in 2004, Arsene Wenger will be hoping that this new addition can help bring back the glory days to the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 seasons last year, which will also be a major driving force for them in 2017/18 – the side are currently placed at evens in the football betting markets to secure a berth into Europe’s elite competition.

Many are saying that with the explosive attacking trio of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and now Alexandre, this could be the year for the Gunners.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=gI6YOhbT6H0

Sanchez still has one year on his contract at the Emirates and there has been much speculation surrounding the player and his desire to remain at the London club. He was most definitely the standout player for the Gunners last season, with a very impressive tally of 24 goals and 11 assists. This latest addition to the squad could be the deciding factor in the Chilean’s decision to stay. Everybody is well aware of his hunger for trophies and thirst for success, and Lacazette is certainly the kind of player that can help make those dreams a reality.

Arsenal secured the FA Cup and took the club’s only trophy of the season, defeating Premier League champions Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley. It was a testament to the resilience of the team after heavy criticism from the supporters for both manager and players. Arsene Wenger described the wins as one of the proudest moments in his career. The win saw him lift his seventh FA Cup and become the most successful manager in the competition’s history.

Lacazette scored 37 goals in all competitions in his final season at Lyon and has become one of Europe’s most prolific goal scorers. Now the real question is, can he bring that unique touch and blistering pace to the Premier League and use it to bring the title home for the Gunners?

A look back at Cristiano Ronaldo’s records at Manchester United

Cristiano Ronaldo’s relentless scoring has added a few more records to his magnificent résumé this year, including becoming the all-time top scorer across the top five leagues in Europe.

The man, who many consider to be the greatest player in the world, and one of the greatest in the illustrious history of the sport, now has a record of nearly 600 goals and over 200 assists for three clubs that feature in three different leagues and Portugal.

‘Christiano Ronaldo’ – Ludovic Peron via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Having played in three games, sealing one assist, in the 2002/03 season for Sporting Lisbon, then-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson signed the Portuguese winger for – what now looks to be one of the deals of the century – just £16.15 million. Cristiano Ronaldo then used Old Trafford as his stage to set the world on fire; his slick feet, speedy runs, elegant shooting, and lightning free kicks securing his fate as a Manchester United legend.

In 2009, Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid for a world-record fee, but now he might be on his way back. To the excitement of many United fans, Ronaldo is 3/1 to link back up with the Red Devils (second-favourite behind staying) following reports of his displeasure at being the focus of a tax scandal. So, let’s take a look at the records that Ronaldo set in Manchester – a list that he could be adding to if a transfer comes to fruition.

Ronaldo’s records from his time in England

‘57457319’ – Yoca91 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the ‘first and only’ title for a Manchester United player with many FIFA awards. In 2008, he won the European Golden Shoe with his 31 league goals. He beat Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Rhys Griffiths by virtue of the value of Premier League goals.

He also won the FIFA World Player of the Year award in the same season, as well as the FIFA Puskas Award in the following campaign for this goal against FC Porto in the Champions League:

In 2007/08, Ronaldo scored the joint-most goals to earn the Premier League Golden Boot award in a 38-game season at 31 goals; tied with Alan Shearer (Blackburn 95/96), and Luis Suarez (Liverpool 13/14). The Portuguese marksman blazed past Fernando Torres and Emmanuel Adebayor, who came second with 24 goals each. That also marks a Manchester United record for goals in a single 38-game Premier League season.

He’s also the first player to win all four of the major Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association awards. Ronaldo was the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2006/07,  the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08, and won the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2006/07 and 2007/08.

Finally, the transfer fee of £80 million which took Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid obliterated the former record transfer fee of £46 million for Zinedine Zidane from Juventus to Real Madrid. Despite being 32 years old, a potential transfer of Ronaldo could very well demand a fee close to the record-breaking one which moved him to Spain.

He’s still got a few more years left of playing in him, so there’s no doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo will continue to add to his remarkable stash of footballing records, be it for Manchester United or Real Madrid next season.

Can the EPL teams Challenge the European Status Quo?

UCL

Although often touted as the greatest league in the world, perhaps more on entertainment than quality, and despite paying out the biggest wages, world record transfers and commanding TV money no other league can come close to, the English Premier League (EPL) teams have struggled to establish themselves in the Champions League era. It is a given that the La Liga’s best teams will make the final stages and Bayern Munich always seem to reach the Semi Finals. No English club has come close to matching that and it is still a novelty rather than regularity when an English team reaches the final 4 let alone the final. So can this season see a change in the waves? With 5 teams in the Champions League there is every chance…

Chelsea are of course going in as Champions and were a cut above the rest in 2016-2017. They have a manager with vast experience, a squad deep enough to go well and a system of playing that will suit the big European Nights. The advantage of a season off from the Champions League may also serve to boost and under Conte. But how much will he gamble on prioritising Europe? Chelsea have a real chance to make themselves a force in Europe. Even at the peak of their powers, they have never set their stamp on this contest with just the 2 finals and 1 win. Now is the time to change…. Arsenal on the other hand will be spending time free on Wednesday probably looking for best online casino to play slot machines while they contemplate the first season in over 20 where they are not in Europe elite footballing competition!

Manchester City are the team I can see establishing themselves more than the others. Of course detractors are going to claim they have never done anything in the Champions league, they have never made an impact etc etc but with the resources they have, the roots they are building and the manager they have at the helm, there is every chance of them breaking it. They are basing themselves and their entire backroom set ups and youth systems in accordance with what the big clubs have achieved and this will set them up nicely the more time goes on. They dream big and that’s what will get them where they need.

Over at the other side of Manchester, they have a manager who has been there and done it all before. But can he build a dynasty like Red Flush online casino? As a man with a reputation of not sticking around it is hard to see Jose being able to do what even Alex Ferguson couldn’t and making united mainstays in the final 4 of the Tournament. But who knows….

It may be too early for Liverpool. I do hope the Klopp era is a long and prosperous one as his brand of football is enjoyable and he seems to be able to get the most out of his players. Can he take them back to the summit where they once were in the 1970s and 1980s? He will need time and money but with a new era on the helm, a burst of young players and a new drive about club…maybe they can?

It is too early to talk about Spurs being able to breach the gap as they are just about settling themselves as contenders in England and there is no Arsenal this year!

In short, can the EPL teams go and make themselves the best they can possibly be and get into the status of being regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League? In time yes, but at the moment, as the last season showed there is still much to work on.

Do Spurs Have What It Takes to Win the Title?

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Delli Ali Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

For the second year in a row, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur fell short in the Premier League title race despite challenging near the top of the table for the most part of the campaign. On paper, Spurs have the talent required to emerge victorious at the top level of English football but it may all come down to whether the north London side are made of the right “stuff”.

Some teams have it, others don’t. In recent years, Tottenham have come under scrutiny for succumbing to pressure at the worst moment; that cannot happen if Pochettino’s men want to win the title. With some good fortune and astute activity throughout the summer transfer window, Spurs may get their hands on England’s top-flight crown for the first time in the Premier League era.

Defensively, Spurs are arguably the strongest side in the Premier League. According to news outlets, Kyle Walker looks set to join Manchester City for an estimated fee of £60 million this summer and Tottenham fans will be preparing for life without the England international.

However, Kieran Trippier is capable of stepping up to the plate in his absence. The 26-year-old was a regular for Spurs at the backend of last season and there is no need for Pochettino to invest heavily in a new right-sided defender at the present moment. WhoScored statistics show that Trippier ranked as Tottenham’s seventh-best performing defensive player last season – ahead of star centre-back Toby Alderweireld.

Harry Kane Spurs Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

With Alderweireld and co. standing strong in front of Hugo Lloris, Tottenham are blessed with a title-winning defensive unit. In the 2016/17 campaign, Spurs conceded just 26 goals; the second-best record in the Premier League. Following the 7-1 victory over Hull City on the final day, Pochettino’s men also had the best goal difference in England’s top flight. Their tally of +60 was eight clear of Chelsea and Tottenham will be keen to build on their success ahead of next season.

Preparation ahead of the new campaign will be key and Pochettino will have one eye on the International Champions Cup in July. If Spurs, priced at 10/1 to win the title as of June 8th, want to compete with the best teams in the world, it might be wise for the north London side to take the competition very seriously indeed.

Throughout the summer, football fans can keep up with the latest odds, scores, and tips via Footy Accumulators’ Acca Tracker. This app allows punters to track the results of their bets and, with big games against Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Roma fast approaching, there are plenty of opportunities for Spurs fans to get involved, especially with an array of free bets from bet365, BetVictor, and others to choose from.

If Spurs can prove their worth against some of Europe’s biggest sides, many will fancy Pochettino’s team to lay down a serious marker for the title. And Harry Kane will head into the new campaign knowing that his goals may turn out to be decisive in the title race. The Spurs man won the Golden Boot award for the second season in a row despite missing over three months through injury and it would take a brave man to back against Tottenham if Kane is fully fit and firing on all cylinders.

Harry Kane Tottenham Quiz

Source: Tottenham Hotspur via Facebook

In 38 appearances, Kane scored 35 goals and Pochettino knows that he must continue to build around the England international in order to keep Spurs in contention. Dele Alli, one of the most talented youngsters on the planet, has formed a solid partnership with Kane and another acquisition could give Tottenham a new dimension in attack.

Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa could be on Pochettino’s radar and he is certainly gettable for the right price. The Brazilian has struggled to impress since Carlo Ancelotti arrived at the Allianz Arena and a move to the Premier League would appeal. Tottenham’s involvement in the Champions League will certainly help them to attract elite talent this summer…

Ross Barkley has been linked with a move to Spurs for the past few months but Tottenham don’t really need any more creative midfielders. Pochettino wouldn’t turn the England man away but upsetting the balance of this solid Spurs midfield could have an adverse effect in the long run. If nothing else, his impact and drive to perform better could push Tottenham’s existing stars to improve further.

Signing a couple of players will help to keep everybody on their toes and Tottenham’s stock as potential champions will be bolstered by any arrivals. With Kane leading the line, Spurs are in with a decent chance of lifting the title next season. Pochettino is building a monster and Tottenham could finally fulfil their potential with a bit of luck.

EPL Spending Power in the Transfer Window – Summer 2017

Transfer Window

As summer begins to hit, the cheque books start to come out as the clubs in the EPL begin to splash the cash on players from around the club. Whether they have ambitions of league titles, champions league success or indeed merely staying in the division, the budgets that some of the EPL clubs will be toying with this transfer window are larger than ever. But what can we expect from the money flowing in the league? Who will be the big movers and shakers? And what are the odds that the world transfer record may be surpassed – maybe more than once? So who has the capital to back up their desires and dominate this transfer window.

Eyes must begin in the City of Manchester where the two rival clubs will be amongst the biggest spenders. The spending power of Manchester City seems to be unrivalled but there is every chance Manchester United will smash their own transfer record with the addition of a much needed striker, now that a certain Swede is no longer leading the line. Manchester City’s owners have made to clear to Pep Guardiola that he should set his sights no lower than a unprecedented quadruple haul of trophies and this will mean the cash will have to come out. It is unlikely any other club will match the spending power at City. Over at Manchester United “The Special One” has had time to build and after qualifying for the Champions League, the temptation to join the legendary red devils may be too much. Griezman, Bale…..all rumoured and I would imagine a £100 million player into Old Trafford is not unlikely.

What about the Champions? They certainly have money to spend but in the past that hasn’t always helped them. Last year Chelsea were such a force as they had no European football to occupy their midweek time, but this year they will be back in the Champions League and will need to add a range of players for back up. I don’t expect anything major but a few £20 million plus players should arrive. Liverpool have been throwing ridiculous prices around for the likes of Virgil Van Dyke and Jurgen Klopp clearly has big deals in mind. Anfield has struggled in the past few seasons to be the attractive place it once was but with the Champions League money, the lure of playing for a club with an impressive a history as any and the chance to work with Klopp, I imagine Liverpool will take up this chance with big spending power to match.

The team that will be very interesting in terms of spending power is Arsenal. The lack of Champions League may prove problematic in attracting the very best, but with money in the bank there could still be big moves to the Emirates. Wenger will know he has to buy to keep up and get back in the top 4 and they should still have the spending power to back it up!

Outside of the major clubs in the league, it will be interesting to see how the new boys cope. St James Park should see big money deals taking place as the boss has made it clear the team don’t have enough to secure a decent finish. Even when you look at clubs like Bournemouth, throwing £120,000 a week at Jermain Defoe to sign shows how much money is kicking around at all clubs. At the end of the day, the spending power of the clubs in the EPL has never been greater and although some will show caution, I expect the newspapers will be full of tales of big money buys and records will be broken. Which in turn, should lead to even more excitement for fans!

How are England shaping up for Russia 2018?

England Manager

England Manager12 months ago in Nice, England suffered arguably their worst humiliation since 1950, losing 2-1 to the spirited underdogs of Iceland. Feelings of cynicism and mistrust towards the England team, which have festered for decades, became even more prominent. Fans felt alienated that such well-paid individuals could not stand up for their country and show a fraction of the desire that we saw from Strákarnir okkar. Throw in the Sam Allardyce debacle that followed within three months of Roy Hodgson’s inevitable resignation and Gareth Southgate was dealt a rough hand.

And yet, his first nine months in charge have provided encouraging signs. We have seen the team ease towards qualification for the 2018 World Cup, with many issues from the regimes of Roy Hodgson and others seemingly put to bed.

Previous managers including Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren all at times shoehorned in big-name players, without considering the tactical balance of the side. Hodgson started Wayne Rooney at the Euros, but he also wanted to play Dele Alli after the season he had enjoyed as well as two strikers, due to the strength in that area. The outcome was a disjointed side with too many players trying to do similar jobs, which was partly responsible for the hesitancy the team showed when approaching the final third.

For Southgate to loosen the shackles on England’s younger (bar Jamie Vardy) and best attacking players, it was clear Rooney had to be dropped from the squad. That was not an easy decision to make about the team’s most recent captain, who for 12 years has been untouchable, but it was the right one.

The Three Lions, who as of 08th June are 20/1 to win the next World Cup with Betway, will have more width with Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who both started the 2-0 win over Lithuania, included in the squad. They enjoyed good 16/17 seasons at top clubs and have the versatility to attack the flank at pace, when too many players at the Euros only wanted to operate in central areas.

If there was one criticism of the team’s first six games under Southgate, it would be the need for better finishing. England perhaps shaded their friendly with Germany but failed to net and were undone by a fitting Lukas Podolski screamer and could have netted more than two against Lithuania. Some of this profligacy can be attributed to the absence of Harry Kane, a complete striker who has scored 99 goals in three years, leading some to dub him world-class.

Joe Hart’s status as a world-class goalkeeper has been tarnished somewhat by an unconvincing end to his Man City career and a mixed spell on loan at Torino. However, he has only conceded one goal in 585 minutes since the Euros and could have done little about Podolski’s strike in Dortmund. By contrast, Tom Heaton has had a better season at club level, but struggled in his 45-minute outing against Spain, letting in two goals that saw England throw away a comfortable lead.

Joe Hart Man City Goalkeeper

Were Heaton younger than Hart, patience may be needed but he is one-year older at 31. Southgate is better off persisting with a goalkeeper who is at home playing for his country and has experience of winning titles, something perhaps lacking in the squad.

Gary Cahill has won six major honours as a regular with Chelsea and, after leading last year’s Premier League champions commandingly, is deserving of the captaincy. The best partner for Cahill could be Eric Dier or Rob Holding, possibly both with each of the trio used to playing in a back-three.

The wing-back system showed potential against Germany and suits the skillset of the full-backs in the squad. Kyle Walker is used to playing in a 3-4-3 for Tottenham and while club teammate Danny Rose is less familiar due to a coinciding injury, he has the energy to adapt. The same can be said of back-ups Nathaniel Clyne and Ryan Bertrand, the latter often positioned further forward than central midfielders at Southampton.

Providing the licence for these players to attack, either as wing-backs or full-backs, could be Jordan Henderson. The 26-year-old has missed the last four months through injury but when fit, he has proved a consistent and dependable performer at Liverpool. Bar Idrissa Gana Gueye, Henderson won more tackles per game (3.7) than any Premier League player last season and averages by far the most passes per game (85.7), according to WhoScored. Though number of passes does not tell you everything, a player who can gain a steady handle on the midfield is useful when entwined with more creative types.

One of those is club teammate Adam Lallana, who has also impressed for the Reds this term with his intelligent movement and clever footwork in tight areas. Lallana has looked at home against the might of Spain and Germany, but faces competition for the same position in Alli, the Premier League’s highest-scoring non-striker last term with 18 goals.

At least one of Chamberlain and Sterling, who can fit into many different roles, are likely to start in Russia, which means one of Alli and Lallana may have to miss out. Alli has age and goalscoring statistics on his side, but Lallana is more adaptable and tends to have greater influence in the middle third.

Thanks to a resurgence in English talent over the last three years, the Lallana or Alli debate demonstrates the wide array of impressive players England now possess. Added to that, we now have a manager we can trust to pick out the players that will give the team the best balance, not necessarily those of the highest-profile. The current national mood of weariness towards England is understandable, but if we look in the right places, there may be room for a little cautious optimism.

If Wenger Makes a Big Statement in the Transfer Market will Sanchez Be Tempted to Stay?

Arsene Wenger out

Arsenal Sanchez

Source: Alexis Sanchez via Facebook 

The long and lingering transfer speculation around Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez is still ongoing, but one Spanish journalist has sensationally claimed that the Chilean will be named as a Manchester City player later in the week. Arsene Wenger, on the other hand, has insisted that the goal machine with a year left on his current contract is perfectly happy at the Emirates and will not be on the move this summer.

Sanchez’s dismay over the lack of success during his time with the Gunners has been plain to see, and he desperately wants to be somewhere he can claim silverware. If Wenger makes some serious waves in the transfer window for world-class players, could the Frenchman persuade his number one forward to stay?

Wenger endured a dismal Premier League campaign last season which resulted in a finish outside of the top four for the first time in his English career. As such, at the time of writing Arsenal have football odds of 11/1 to win the league next season.

If the Gunners were to lose the likes of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, those odds would doubtlessly grow even larger. But if Wenger manages to attract strong reinforcements this summer it could, in fact, give his star players the belief that Arsenal are able to challenge for the top prizes.

Wenger is thought to have a budget of around £100 million to spend in the transfer market, and he could also generate a significant amount of spending money if Barcelona snap up Hector Bellerin. The Spanish giants are rumoured to be lining up a whopping bid of £40 million for the pacey full back.

This would leave Wenger with a significant war chest to bolster his squad in an attempt to win the top flight while all Arsenal’s main rivals are busy in the Champions League. One of the most coveted players in the world right now is Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid are believed to be preparing a staggering bid of around £117 million for the 18-year-old.

Wenger, however, has advised the wonder kid to seek a move to a club where he is going to be assured of regular game time. With the Champions League winners having the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, and Gareth Bale in the attack there are question marks over how frequently Mbappe would start.

Arsenal are in desperate need of a prolific striker and have been for the past few seasons. If Mbappe wanted to grow into a global star and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Thierry Henry, then a move to North London could be the ideal platform for him to rise to the next level.

With Arsenal also showing interest in James Rodriguez, it looks as though the three-time Premier League winning manager is well and truly on the hunt for star quality this summer. Whether the Gunners will manage to secure the signatures of these world-class players remains to be seen. If their potential signatures manage to tempt Sanchez to stay is another question entirely.

 

Five Football Players Who Had The Worst Gambling Problems

Footballers have lots of spare time and lots of spare cash – it can be a recipe for disaster.

Many players have succumbed to gambling addiction over the years, losing vast amounts of money and jeopardising the future of their families as a result.

Research from former footballers charity XPRO suggests as many as two out of every five ex-players face bankruptcy within five years of hanging up their boots and retiring from the game. Another report found more than six per cent of sportsmen are classed as “problem gamblers”.

The rise of the internet and betting websites have made betting easier than ever before. Long away trips with team-mates also offer players plenty of temptation to get involved. 

While there is nothing wrong with having a bet or two, it can be tough for some people to stay in control. Here are five high-profile footballers who have struggled with their gambling problems.

Joey Barton

Premier League player Joey Barton opened up about his gambling addiction after receiving an 18-month ban from all football activity after being found to have placed over a thousand bets.

Barton was even caught putting bets on his own team to lose and while there was no suspicion of match-fixing as he was not involved in those fixtures, the affair has effectively forced him into taking an early retirement from the sport.

“I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem,” said Barton in response to his charge.

Barton – whose club Burnley are sponsored by a betting firm – says he has been able to stop betting on football since being caught but it is clear he is still struggling to control his addiction.

Wayne Rooney

England and Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has often been pictured having a gamble at casinos and newspaper stories recently claimed he lost a whopping £500,000 in one night.

While Rooney can afford those losses – he makes a reported £300,000 per week – it is still a phenomenal amount of money, more than most people will make in many, many years of work.

It was also previously claimed Rooney ran up a gambling debt of some £700,000 via a betting ring that involved some of his England team-mates –  including Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Michael Owen and Frank Lampard – in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

 

Did he really lose 2 weeks wages?

Matthew Etherington

Matthew Etherington is among the footballers to have come clean about their addiction, with the ex-West Ham United and Stoke City winger claiming to have lost £1.5 million from betting.

Etherington bet on greyhounds, horses and poker, with the former player explaining how he managed to spend his week’s wages playing poker against his fellow pros on the team coach.

“There were card schools at West Ham and it did get a little bit out of hand,” Etherington revealed in a newspaper interview. “People were taking three, four, five grand on the bus with them.”

Etherington said the gambling was good for team morale but accepted it acted as a distraction for his playing career, as he would be checking the results of horse races in the dressing room.

He would also be pursued by people he owed money, who turned up at his club’s training ground, and he used loan sharks before being helped on to the road to recovery by manager Tony Pulis.

 

Keith Gillespie

Former Newcastle United star Keith Gillespie had a gambling problem that grew to be so serious that it led to him being declared bankrupt.

Gillespie claims to have lost as much as £7 million on gambling during his career, losing as much as £100,000 a day at the height of his addition.

“You’re always chasing the next winner.” said Gillespie. “I would have bets on every race going.”

The former Northern Ireland international even wrote an autobiography – titled How Not To Be A Football Millionaire – that went into detail about how gambling contributed to his financial woes.

Paul Merson

One of the footballers best known for having a gambling problem was Paul Merson, who was one of the best players in English football at the top of his career.

 

Now a pundit for Sky Sports, Merson’s addictions to drugs, drink and betting ruined his life, with the former Arsenal and Aston Villa star estimating he lost around £7 million due to gambling.

At one point Merson’s problem was so great he lost his house and was forced to move back in with his parents, while he even tried to break his own fingers so he could not call his bookie.

Like many ex-pros, Merson had support from the Sporting Chance clinic, established by his former Arsenal colleague Tony Adams.

“I’ve stayed away from drink and drugs but gambling has beat me, spanked me all over the place,” Merson once said. “Every day it would go through my head about committing suicide.”

Similar to Gillespie, Merson opened up about his problems in an autobiography, How Not To Be A Professional Footballer, and fortunately he has since been able to turn his life around.

The Premiership Returns

Football Quiz App

The Premiership returns this weekend after a fortnight break and the battle to avoid relegation can therefore rage on. With Chelsea running away with the title, it is the relegation scrap that is currently providing the most intrigue, with several teams at the bottom improving drastically in recent games, so here we have run through the leading contenders for the drop:

Sunderland

A Ladbrokes review of the odds shows that Sunderland are the heavy favourites to go down at 1/5. They are bottom of the table but it is very tight indeed: Sunderland are level on points with 19th placed Crystal Palace (but with a worse goal difference), a point behind 18th placed Hull, and just two points behind last season’s champions Leicester City, who are hovering one place above the drop zone. Middlesbrough, Swansea and Bournemouth are all looking precarious too. But what makes Sunderland favourites to go down is their recent capitulation against Southampton, where they lost 4-0 at home. 

Crystal Palace

Palace are 4/6 second favourites in the Ladbrokes review, and that looks a very good set of odds. This was not supposed to happen: when Sam Allardyce took over, everyone thought he would galvanise the struggling squad and they would finish mid-table. It has not happened and they are just as bad defensively but worse in attack than they were under Alan Pardew. Back-to-back defeats against Sunderland and Stoke have left them in trouble. On paper they look far too good to go down, blessed as they are with the talents of Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Yohan Cabaye, but many teams that looked to good to go down have done just that and it’s not looking good for Palace right now.

Hull

Hull are 4/5 third favourites with Ladbrokes, but they look like they have a fighting chance of staying up. They have been resurgent since Marco Silva took over and, despite the small squad and lack of investment, they have the requisite pluckiness to make a good fist of it. At those odds it looks a risky bet as they are much improved since the turn of the year.

Middlesbrough

At 5/4 Boro look a great bet to go down. After a strong start they have been slowly but surely sucked into the relegation dogfight and the reason is a lack of goals. They miss having an out and out goal scorer, like Jermain Defoe at Sunderland and Benteke at Crystal Palace, and that could ultimately cost them. They defend very well and have ground out strong results against the likes of Man City and Arsenal this season, but at this stage of the campaign goals get you out of trouble and it is hard to see them finding the net many times between now and the end of the season.

Leicester City

Surely Leicester cannot go from winning the league last season to relegated this time around? They defied logic and odds of 5,000/1 to win the Premier League last season, but now they are just 13/8 with Ladbrokes to be relegated. The stars of last year have waned, the cohesion, unity and fighting spirit has evaporated and manager Claudio Ranieri has gone from genius to clueless in a matter of months, with some fans even calling for him to get sacked. Still, when you look at their team, they have plenty of goal scorers: Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and so on should be able to fire them clear of the drop zone, but they really need to start picking up points soon as they are in woeful form. 

Swansea

Swansea have already changed managers twice this season but seem to have finally clicked under Paul Clement and have shot up to the giddy heights of 15th after winning three of their last four. Keep it up and they will be fine, but odds of 10/3 still look interesting on them.

Bournemouth

At 7/1 the Cherries look a great outside bet to go down. They have not won in 2017 and have been defending horribly. They have a six-point cushion over Hull but the way they ship goals you would fancy them to get sucked deep into the battle.

 

Arsenal look to bounce back from Bayern Munich humiliation

Arsene Wenger out

Arsene Wenger’s team travel to the 5,000 capacity Borough Sports Ground to face Sutton United in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday evening.

Sutton United, the National League side, have already eliminated Wimbledon and Leeds United en route to their first ever fifth-round appearance and were awarded with a dream tie against The Gunners. They will be looking to become the first non-league team to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup in its current format.

Arsenal suffered humiliation in their crushing defeat to Bayern Munich during the mid-week Champions League fixture and the FA Cup remains their most realistic chance of silverware this season as the Premier League title looks like it’s out of reach – however you can check out the live odds for the Premier League title if you feel Arsenal will close the 10 point gap between them an Chelsea.

Arsene Wenger has come under intense pressure this week, however has stated that he will be managing next season. He said, “no matter what happens, I will manage next season, whether it’s here or somewhere else. That’s absolutely for sure.”

When discussing the 5-1 defeat in Germany, he goes on to say “on a night like that, of course I hate defeat and I hate to lose games. I want to do extremely well for this club and I feel a big responsibility.”

“It is difficult to take, but I have the strength and experience to respond. It all went wrong for us after half-time. I think we looked quite defensively solid in the first half. We lost Laurent Koscielny in the second half and after that we lost our structure and our organisation. We were a bit naive for the goals we conceded. At 3-1 I felt we were mentally affected by the result and much more vulnerable.”

He goes on to say “everyone focuses on the next game, to take care of the consequences a disappointing result can have on everybody’s spirit and to make sure we bounce back and focus on the next game.”

“We have to deal with the media and our job is to and analyse with clarity what happened. We can’t influence the last result.”

“I always had in my head that it was a very important game. In my head I have had a team that will start and play there, for a week or 10 days now. That result we had at Bayern Munich will not influence that selection.”

“The FA Cup is one of our targets. It’s te next game and for us to bounce back after the game we just had, it becomes a very important game. But it always was, in my head.”

Arsenal, who could reach the sixth round for the fourth season in a row, must be wary of a potential cup upset. However, Sutton United manager Paul Doswell is remaining cautious. “There’s two ways of looking at it” says Doswell. You either get the likes of Ozil and Sanchez and Giroud – and you can just keep naming them – in which case we would lose the game comfortably but the lads would get the experience of having played a Premier League giant.”

“If you see Ozil and Sanchez on the team sheet our chance doesn’t come beyond nought. Or you go the other way and you play a team of under-23s that are still internationals mixed in with one or two of their squad players, and that gives us that one percent chance that we’d be after.”

How to Bet on Horse Racing

How to Bet on Horse Racing

Right at this moment, as you are reading, thousands of people around the country will be lining up in betting sops, logged into online bookmakers and attending racecourses to place wagers using their hard earned cash on Horse Races. At first all the technical terms can be a little off putting and knowing where to start can be a little intimidating but there are plenty of options out there. Don’t be put off by people who seem to be talking the big talk….essentially if you have money and a race to watch. You can place a bet.

Betting On Line
Betting on line has changed the entire market and if you simply google “online bookmakers” you will see a rather lengthy and some what intimidating list. Whether it be companies that have an online presence online or those with retail outlets, you will be spoiled for choice. If you are betting for the first time on horses then take a look at who has the best offers as many online bookmakers will offer free bets and incentives to get you signed up. You are actually far better off placing your first series of bets with a variety of bookmakers to ensure you can take advantage of all the deals. Certain sites also offer live coverage of the races you can watch and many have much more extensive information so shop around make sure it’s a site you can trust and get gambling!

Many also have great apps these days so make sure you make the right one to suit your needs

Betting in shops

I would also suggest this as a good avenue into the world of betting. Go to any local street and chances are you have a range of options….the variety in prices and odds is very slim but what you actually want, if you are new to the betting world, is a store that is going to actually help you and guide you through the process and staff on hand tend to be very knowledgeable. It can be off putting having a room full of people hurrying to place bets, playing on betting machines and such like but taking it slow and easy, using the help on offer can ease you into the world of betting.

Betting on course
It is probably going to take some building up for you to be up to this level. What you have to bear in mind is that for your first few forays into the gambling world, the race course is perhaps not the best place to do so. Not only are entry fees high but there is also minimum bets, a general hustle and bustle about the place and it may put you off for life!

The best place to start, if you have some basic understanding is certainly online, and get those offers taken advantage of. If you need help get into the stores but at the end of the day, when it comes to betting on horse racing, the sooner you get confident in doing it, the more profit you are able to make.

The Premier League Run In – Who will come out on top?

EPL

Once the festive period is over and people begin to embrace the New Year, the eyes of the footballing world turn to the Premier League title race. All the pre-xmas jousting for position and gathering of posts turns into a serious battle as teams look to pull away and cement their position. With up to 6 teams in the running this year, let us have a look at who will come out on top in the Premier League Run in.

Liverpool

Already showing signs of cracking under pressure, the lack of big time experience in the Liverpool squad could come back to haunt them. The consistent problem of throwing away what should be easy wins as well as general lack of depth will come back to haunt Liverpool. It’s the big games they thrive in, but the bread and butter points they miss more often than is acceptable for title challengers. Looks like the Premier League title will allude them for another season.

Prediction: 6th

Manchester City

Oh dear Pep, things have not only went wrong…but dived off the cliff. The 4-0 defeat to Everton was not just a bad defeat, but a culmination and expression of everything wrong with the club. So much talent, such a big squad but on the pitch a lack of unity, a tactical nightmare and a squad who don’t seem as motivated as the rest will ensure the freefall continues. 5th will be very disappointing to City fans but with big games and a ton of potential banana skins against teams fighting at the bottom, something City are prone to, this is going to be a lone run in.

Prediction: 5th

Manchester United

Football is all about timing, timing on the pitch and timing in terms of form and if one team has hit form when it mattered that is Manchester United. Zlatan has proved a sensation, Pogba is getting better with every game and Jose seems to have a team he is finally happy with. Solid at the back, create up front and hungry for success, United will launch back into the Champions League spots at the expense of their rivals.

Prediction: 4th

Arsenal

The same pattern emerges for an Arsenal side you play attractive football, but fail to perform when the serious pressure is on. With an unsettled squad due to contract issues, a manager with an unsure future and already too many easy points lost, Arsenal fans will have to make do with a consistent 3rd yet again.

Prediction: 3rd

Chelsea

Title favourites throughout the season, Chelsea have started the season the strongest with an incredible unbeaten run that only came to an end at the hands of an in form Tottenham. But, just as Conte looked like he had the league in the bag that defeat, and upset star players such as Diego Costa, could lead to a stumbling point. It will take all of his coaching ability but if anyone can do it, Conte can.  With visits to Liverpool and Old Trafford on the cards there are some tough games ahead.

Prediction: 2nd

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs have started to come into form at the right time and have proven themselves to being capable of winning the key games. With Harry Kane and Delle Ali being two of the most inform players in the league at present, a real belief about the side and that hunger for the first Premier League title, as  well as less pressure than the likes of big money Man City and Chelsea,  we predict this will be the year that White Hart Lane receives its first Premier League Trophy

Prediction: 1st

Whatever happens it is sure to be an exciting end to the season with many head to head duels between the chief protagonists. If your struggling to figure out who to put your money on the check out footballbets.tips for expert analysis and predictions.

The Importance of Treating Children’s Sports Injuries Correctly

Cuts and bruises, scrapes and grazes… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Children inevitably experience injuries at various points, even more so if they’re sporty. So, whether you’re a parent who doesn’t know what to do about your child’s swollen ankle, or a teacher who knows where to buy sports equipment from (here, for instance), but hasn’t a clue about treating injuries on the pitch, here’s what you need to know…

Children’s bodies are particularly susceptible to injuries

Due to the fact that children’s bodies are still growing, they’re more likely to incur serious injuries than adults.

This is due to the fact that children have something called ‘growth plates’ in their bodies. These growth plates are areas of developing tissues at the end of long bones, and they’re only found in children and teenagers. These growth plates are eventually replaced with solid bone once a child has reached adulthood, but the ‘flexible’ nature of their skeletons in the mean time can result in sports injuries that are particularly serious.

If the long bones of your child’s hands, fingers, forearms, upper legs, lower legs or foot bones appear to be injured, be sure to have your child examined by a medical professional. These are the areas where you’ll find growth plates in children, and are therefore very important to treat correctly.

Also, children’s bodies become less ‘flexible’ when they’re having growth spurts. When bones grow, the muscles become tighter. The muscles respond by stretching constantly, and as a result, injuries to muscle groups can be more likely to occur. Take complaints of muscle pain seriously too, and make sure that children do the stretches recommended by their physiotherapist if an injury does indeed turn out to be more serious. 

It’s better to be safe than sorry

For the reasons above, it’s important to take children’s sports injuries seriously. Bangs to the head (especially if a child seems confused, dizzy, nauseous or sleepy) should always be checked out by medical professionals, immediately. Head straight to your local A&E if your child is in severe pain, or something is obviously broken. If your child seems to be OK but is later complaining of pain, consider booking an appointment with your family’s GP.

If an injury doesn’t look too severe, use PRICE therapy.

Sprains and strains aren’t usually very serious, so they can be treated at home using PRICE therapy.

Protection: make sure your child stops playing sport for the time being, taking weight off the injured area.

Rest: your child needs to temporarily stop exercising, and should skip some normal daily activities. For instance, a sprained wrist is the perfect reason to be excused from emptying the dishwasher!

Ice: apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas to the affected area for twenty minutes at a time, once every three hours. Do not hold ice over the area constantly, and ensure that ice packs and frozen peas are contained within a clean bag or a clean plastic covering so that your child doesn’t receive an ice burn.

Compression: use elastic compression bandages to reduce swelling. However, it’s only advisable to do this once your child has been examined by a medical professional – compressing an area that needs to swell a little can do more harm than good, as the excess liquid causing the swelling in an injured area is there to protect your child’s body.

Elevation: keep the injured part of the body elevated up in the air or on a cushion or pillow when possible. The aim is to keep the injured area above the heart whenever possible. As a bonus, this will hopefully help to reduce swelling too.

Hopefully, your child will have recovered within a few days. If their injury seems to be causing them pain for longer than this, take them to your GP as they may need referring to a specialist for assessment and treatment.

However, once your child is better, it’s important that you encourage them back into sport. Exercise will help to reduce their chance of obesity, and will help to ensure their body is generally functioning as well as it can be. Just make sure that you’re not pushing them too hard, and that your child knows the preventative measures they can take to avoid being side-lined with an injury in future. If your child seems to be going through a growth spurt, consider talking to their coaches and sports teachers to see what they recommend.

Dribble Down Economics

 

If you were to calculate the amount of money floating around in the Premier League in this day and age, the sum would be a scary one. From lucrative TV deals, sponsorship, ticket prices and merchandise sales, there is more money in the game than ever before and this shows no sign of slowing down.  Most of this money is finding its way into ever more increasing player wages and fans have become numb to being surprised at the amount of wages being offered to star players.

Let us just start with one scary figure….the total wage bill for the Premier League in the 2014-2015 season was just a shade over £1,600,000,000. That is 1.6 billion pounds….enough to buy 17 million shares in Apple, buy three football stadiums and still have change or give 22p to every person in the world. Players earn more in a week than many fans will earn in ten years of work and the scale of millionaires the game is making is beyond comprehension. If fans were to take a closer look at the picture and see just how much that reserve goalkeeper is earning for sitting on the bench, or that striker who plays 5 times a season, it is truly beyond believe. Clubs seemingly have money to waste and whilst that is all well and good, when fans are paying through the roof for TV subscriptions, ticket prices and merchandise, it just doesn’t seem fair.

Let us take a look more closely at what this money can bring. Manchester City are notorious as big spenders and have several players, including the likes of Ivorian Midfielder Yaya Toure and striker Sergio Aguero, who earn upwards of £12 million a year. In fact, their wage bill that season was £168 million which netted them second place and a spot in the Champions League. A cost of almost £2.1 million per pound earned! Did these see the club make a profit? Of Course  not….

But does money buy success. The highest wage bill in the league was £198 million and guess who that went to? Chelsea of course who took the title in that 2014-2015 season. In fact, the top 3 teams in the league were the top spenders and extending that the top 6 were all the highest spenders on wages. Barring Tottenham who finished ahead of Liverpool, despite Liverpool’s wage bill being £60 million higher, it just goes to show the teams paying the bigger money are reaping the rewards.

Does the same rule apply to those who struggle? The lowest wage bill in the 2014-2015 Premier League was Burnley, and sure enough….they were relegated in 19th. The £50 million spent by Hull City was the third lowest total in the league and sure enough they went down too. QPR splashed out £60 million and were relegated.  Leicester, Newcastle and Crystal Palace all surived despite spending less than QPR on wages. But the differences, in relative terms, are small and the league table doesn’t lie.

The clubs who pay bigger, finish higher and until a cap is introduced or some sort of Fair Play initiative that is more effective than we have now,  this will always tend to be the case.

If you love this sort of way of looking at football then check out Dribble Down Economics  

 

 

Life After Arsene Wenger: A Tough Act to Follow

Arsene Wenger out

Being at a single Premier League club for two decades is a remarkable achievement, but even that isn’t enough to stop some Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has transformed the London club from a defensively-minded outfit into a team that plays one-touch football with flair.

However, for all the success Wenger has brought to the club, he still has his detractors. A lack of action in the transfer market when it counts coupled with a lean spell in the Premier League and Europe over the last decade has hurt his credibility. But, even though his recent spell has been something of a disappointment, there’s no denying that his first ten years at Arsenal were impressive.

Time Will Force a Change of the Guard

With time waiting for no man, there will come a day (and possibly soon) when Wenger will wave goodbye to the Emirates Stadium faithful and sail off into the sunset. In fact, with Wenger’s clock starting to run low, the odds makers are already offering betting lines on his potential replacement. Sun Bets, the official bookmaker of football-mad newspaper The Sun, has already got in on the action.

According to its team of experts, Bournemouth manger Eddie Howe is currently the betting favourite to replace Wenger, at 5/2. Despite having only moved away from his position at Bournemouth for a year to coach Burnley, the weight of public opinion seems to suggest the 39-year-old is the man for the job at Arsenal. Of course, given Arsenal’s history of giving relative unknowns a chance, we could see a surprise appointment in the form of Thierry Henry. Currently priced at 10/1 behind Ralph Hasenhuttl (5/1) and Joachim Low (8/1), Henry could solidify his legendary status at the club by taking the current crop of stars to new heights.

Of course, whoever replaces Wenger will have a tough act to follow. Regardless of how you feel about his lack of signings or major trophies in recent years, the stats suggest that Wenger has been a proverbial talisman for Arsenal, and life after he leaves could be tough. OK, so in his first ten years at Arsenal, Wenger oversaw 566 games and won 327 of those. Those wins include the infamous unbeaten 2003/2004 season.

Trophies, Wins and a Whole Lot More

That first decade yielded 11 trophies, including three Premier League titles. Following this, decade two has seen the Frenchman take charge of 563 games (to the end of September) and win 320. Although trophies have been sparse in that period (four in total), he’s still well on the right side of the win/loss divide.

Beyond the cold hard facts, Wenger has also turned rough diamonds into international stars during his time at the club. Although he’s often failed to lure the “big names” to North London, Wenger has picked up the best unknown talent and rising stars and used them to good effect. Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie are just some of the players Wenger has brought in for a relative pittance.

Essentially, if anyone wants to follow in Wenger’s footsteps and keep pace with him, they need to be smart with the club’s budget, have a knack for finding hidden talent, and importantly, get the tactical best out of players. Wenger, for all his faults, is a managerial great. When history tells the story of the best Premier League managers of all time, there will be a chapter on Mr. Wenger. With this being the case, the next Arsenal manager will have to work extremely hard if he wants to avoid the post-Alex Ferguson slump Manchester United are currently experiencing.

So, whoever the next manager is, good luck to you sir, you’re going to need it.

AUTHOR BIO

Daniel Smyth is a freelance writer with interests in the sports and betting worlds. From football and boxing to poker and MMA, Daniel now produces articles for a range of games, sports and betting discplines.

 

Germany & Denmark get off to winning starts in World Cup qualifying

This week saw the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign across Europe, with four times winners Germany among those to claim an opening victory in their respective group. Bayern man Thomas Muller found the net twice for Joachim Low’s side during a comfortable 3-0 win over Norway, with fellow Group C contenders the Czech Republic and Northern Ireland playing out a goalless Prague.

As the reigning World Cup holders, Germany are unsurprisingly the Betser freebet to finish at the top of the group, securing an automatic passage to the finals in Russia, with Euro 2016 participants Northern Ireland hoping to earn a second successive spot at a major tournament. Elsewhere in the group, Azerbaijan claimed an opening victory over minnows San Marino, with Pierangelo Manzaroli’s men having lost 13-0 to Germany back in 2006.

Meanwhile, in Group E, Denmark narrowly saw off Armenia thanks to single goal from Tottenhams’s Christian Eriksen, while there was late drama in Kazakhstan. Despite holding a two goal half-time advantage, thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leicester City’s Bartosz Kapustka, Poland conceded two goals during the second period to allow the home side to claim a famous point. Elsewhere in the group, Romania and Montenegro both found the back of the net in the closing stages to secure what could be a valuable point. Former Manchester City man StevanJovetic cancelled out Adrian Popa’s striker, with NicolaeStanciu dramatically missing a penalty for the hosts in the seventh minute of added time. If the first round of fixtures is anything to go by, Group E looks set to be one of the most competitive in Europe.

Group F was certainly not short of drama also, with a 95th minute Adam Lallana goal ensuring that Sam Allardyce got his England tenor off to a winning start in Slovakia. It had looked like being a frustrating evening for England, despite former Liverpool man Martin Skrtel receiving a deserved red card in the second half, however Lallana scored his first goal at international level to secure all three points. England will certainly be favourites to qualify for the finals with Betser, with only Scotland likely to cause any real problems for the Three Lions.

Elsewhere in the group, Lithuania threw away a two goal lead against Slovenia, with former West Bromwich Albion loanee Bostjan Cesar equalising for the visitors in the final seconds. Gordon Strachan was delighted with his Scotland side’s performance against a potentially tricky Malta outfit, with Hull City’s Robert Snodgrass scoring a hat-trick in a comfortable 5-1 win. The home side finished the game with nine men following two second half sending’s off. Scotland will see this as a good opportunity to qualify for their first major tournament since the World Cup in 1998.

Premier League Weekend Preview

Leicester City Quiz

After a short international break, the Premier League returns this weekend with what should be a fascinating array of fixtures at both the top and bottom of the League. Let’s take a look at the games played this weekend, a crucial point in the season as the race to the top and bottom of the league starts to take shape. Although we will give you an insight into the upcoming games, be sure to check out what the professionals think over at SBAT, after all, we are just humble footie quiz enthusiasts.

Manchester United vs Arsenal

The weekend kicks off with a bang with a fixture that always throws up excitement. Arsenal have made the usual confident start to the season they tend to make, and there is a quiet confidence at the Emirates that this could well be the finest team they have assembled in years. The Special One however finds himself under pressure at Old Trafford and loosing to bitter rivals Arsenal will not do his cause any favours.

Prediction: 1-3

Crystal Palace vs Manchester City

Manchester City should find victory at Selhurst Park easy to come by as Palace’s shaky defence will surely not be able to withstand the powerful attacking might City will bring. Expect a convincing win for City as they keep on their push for title glory.

Prediction: 0 – 3

Everton vs Swansea

Both teams find themselves lower in the league then would like, and would be aiming to put together a winning streak over the festive period to kick start their route to the top. Swansea look on course for a long hard season, so parking the bus and aiming to frustrate Everton may be their aim, but the Toffees will be looking for  all 3 points.

Prediction: 1-0

Sunderland vs Hull

One of the most interesting games of the weekend takes place up at the Stadium of Light where David Moyes began to ease the pressure on himself with a victory over Bournemouth, but needs to follow it up with the first home win of the season to get the Mackem faithful back on his side. Hull will provide stiff opposition but the Roker Roar should guide the hosts home.

Prediction: 2-1

Southampton vs Liverpool

The Anfield faithful are once again proclaiming that this could be their year, and with Jurgen Klopp getting the best out of the whole squad so far, a title challenge does look likely. But as the result to Burnley showed, these type of fixtures prove tricky for teams in form and the Saints could well pull off the surprise of the weekend!

Prediction: 3-2

Watford vs Leicester City

Last season Leicester were the talk of the League every week as there seemingly impossible run continued week after week to become Premier League Champions. This year, their slide down the league into a potential relegation battle is as much of a talking point for casual fans, and Ranieri’s side may face further gloom this weekend with an inform Watford sensing blood.

Prediction: 1-0

Other games this also being playing this weekend –

Stoke City vs Bournemouth (Prediction 2-0)

Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United (Prediction 3-1)

Middlesbrough vs Chelsea (Prediction 0-2)

West Bromwich Albion vs Burnley (Prediction 0-0)

 

La Liga vs The Premier League

messi-v-carrick

La Liga vs The Premier League

Football fans, for whatever odd reason, endlessly debate which of the world leagues is the finest, which provides the best entertainment and which has the higher quality? Whilst there is no sure fire way to determine which league is the best, let us look at some of the deciding factor.

Where the big boys play? 

The best players in the world are undoubtedly in La Liga and for the foreseeable future that will remain the league that attracts the worlds best. When a star emerges, talk does not concern them heading to Chelsea or Arsenal these days but as to whether they will go to Real Madrid or Barcelona. It has been that way for some time! Think of who are generally considered the world best players during the past few years….Ronaldo, Zidane, Messi, Bale, Suarez, Neymar…..all ply their trade in Spain. That is not to say that the Premier League does not attract World Class players, as we all know it does, but the world’s elite still tend to drift over to Spain.

Unpredictably

This is one area in which the Premier League has the upper edge. Need I say more than two words… Leicester City. The 2015-2016 season will remain one of the biggest shocks in World Football when little known Leicester ascended to the top and stayed there all season. Challenger after Challenger fell and they crowned one of footballs biggest upsets with games to spare. Indeed, with Blackburn, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Leicester all having won the title since the inception of the Premier League since 1992 and Liverpool and Spurs being perennial contenders, there is a much wider scope for unpredictability than occurs in La Liga where the dominance of the big two tends to make for fairly predictable fair.

Goals

The stats do not lie…the Premier League produces more goals on average per game than La Liga. This figure shoots up if you don’t include the Champions of each year (as Real and Barca tend to net big wins regularly). If you want to see Goals galore the Premier League is the place to be

Managerial Duels

Due to the more open nature of the Premier League and the money at hand, it is no wonder that some of the worlds top managers end up in England. Indeed, whilst it would be fair to say that the worlds best players are in La Liga, the finest managers on the planet are currently in the Premier League. Any football fan who would say a league in which Klopp, Mourinho, Conte, Koeman and Guardiola is secondary to anyone would have a hard argument. Have a look at the best predictions at betting tips 4you to see the best odds.

But it will always be each to their own, if you prefer technical and highly tactical football with the circus of the Galaticos and Barca coming to town, then the La Liga option is for you. If you prefer more raw, hard hitting and unpredictable football then tune in to the Premier League. Either way, we can all agree we are blessed to live in an era where quality leagues from top to bottom exist across the continent.

Early Contenders for Player of the Season

Player of Year

Player of the Season

The season is barely two months old, but as always, football fans look ahead to what is going to be the final table, the top scorers and perhaps the player of the season. Who has impressed you so far? Who look like they are going to be making a huge different for their team? Let us take a look at some of the early contenders.

Jordan Henderson

Liverpool under Klopp already look like a menacing force and sitting in the engine room of the team is English Captain Jordan Henderson. With a pacey determined play, sharp passing and an eye for goal, Henderson has been at the heart of Liverprool’s impressive start to the season. A couple more strikes like the wonder goal he hit against Chelsea and his name surely will not be far off the end of season lists.

Diego Costa

Chelsea have proven they are back with a bang, and finally have found a manager to tame Diego Costa. With less rash moments and a raft of goals already, if Costa fires Chelsea to the top of the table and to silver ware, he may be wearing crowns of his own by the end of the season!

Romelu Lukaku

If goals are going to win any player the Player of the Season award then the big Belgian at Goodison Park cannot be overlooked. Not only have the goals flowed but Lukaku finally looks motivated and has been central to the attacking force of a team that Ronald Koeman has crafted into a unit that could challenge the top 4.

Paul Pobga

No player can ever live up the Price tag attached to him, but Pogba has started to find his feet now the initial pressure and learning curve has gone. Mourinho is still tweaking at United to find the balance but when he does, United will soar and driven by the worlds most expensive player, he could be the one to turn United into title contenders once again.

Theo Walcott

Season after season Walcott has promised and failed to deliver what is expected but this year, in an Arsenal side that looks more dangerous than in recent memory, he is proving a vital link, not only with his soaring runs down the wings and terrorising defenders, but with his range of goals. If Arsenal do go on to win the title Walcott is going to play as a big a part as any and he must be considered an early contender for player of the season.

More will spring up between now and then…David De Gea has already shone, Eric Bailly at United is one of the finest defenders to come to the league in recent memory, James Milner is settled and running the show at Anfield, Harry Kane is going from strength to strength to strength at Spurs and lets not forget the likes of Sergio Ageuro, the form of whom could tilt the balance of the season. Who will win, who knows but you can check out betbind for great football odds.

Who knows where the Player of the Season trophy will end up when the season draws to a close, but I for one cannot wait to find out!

 

 

Chelsea’s 2017 Summer Signings Rated

Following their procession to the Premier League title last season, many felt that Chelsea had one of the strongest squads in the division. By all accounts, Antonio Conte had devised a winning formula and the Blues appeared to have strength in depth all over the pitch.

The 2017 summer transfer window, however, proved problematic for the Blues, with Nemanja Matic departing for Manchester United and Diego Costa falling out of favour and manufacturing his desired move back to Atletico Madrid.

Despite missing out on primary target and former striker Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea still parted with over £170 million during the offseason.

It’s still very early days, but here are the six first-team summer signings ranked this term by Blues blog Chelsea FC Online:

6. Danny Drinkwater – £34m from Leicester City

The three-time capped England midfielder is ranked in sixth place purely due to the fact he is yet to feature for the Blues this season. The England international has been acquired from Leicester in an attempt to rekindle his potent partnership with N’Golo Kante in central midfield, and only time will tell if moving to Stamford Bridge was the correct move for him and the Blues.

5. Willy Caballero – Free Transfer from Manchester City

The Argentinian shot-stopper was brought in to provide cover to Thibaut Courtois following the departure of Asmir Begovic to Bournemouth. In his only appearance, against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, he looked assured and is a logical backup to the Belgian number one, who will be able to impart some of his knowledge and experience.

4. Davide Zappacosta – £22.5m from Torino

The Italian right wing-back looks a tailor-made fit for Conte’s 3-4-3 system. His energy up and down the field is essential and he looks very comfortable in forward areas – scoring a goal against FK Qarabag on his home debut. Victor Moses currently occupies the RWB slot but Conte will be delighted to be able to rotate in his back line should he wish to do so.

3. Tiemoue Bakayoko – £36m from Monaco

As an integral part of Monaco’s success last season, much had been made of Bakayoko’s move to West London and the imposing Frenchman has delivered. With time on his side (aged 23), he looks to have all the attributes of a top midfield player and looks well set to fill the void left by Nemanja Matic in the middle of the park.

2. Antonio Rudiger – £31m from Roma

The German centre-back has thoroughly impressed since his arrival from Roma and has looked composed in his seven appearances in all competitions so far. The emergence of Andreas Christensen, as well as the arrival of Rudiger, has given Conte food for thought in the centre of defence, with David Luiz and Gary Cahill’s places in the team under threat.

1. Alvaro Morata – £56m from Real Madrid

The Spanish hitman has instantly delivered on his large price tag by bagging seven goals already this term. Conte will be delighted with how his marquee summer signing has performed and his recent injury will be a big blow to the Blues in the short term. On his return, he will be looking to continue his strong start and fire his team back up the league, keeping them in contention for trophies on four fronts.

 

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

Man City Quiz

Man City Destined For Glory – Bet On It!

We are only a month into the 2016-17 Premier League season and have already seen some fantastic matches. The league table is starting to take shape and it looks like Manchester City is the team to beat. Can anyone stop Manchester City from winning their third Premier League title in six season?

Let’s take a look at the frontrunners for the Premier League title, while dissecting the performances of a few teams we believe, based on the opening handful of matches, will be entrenched in the unenviable relegation battle.

Manchester City: -145 (7/10) to win the Premier League

Man City Quiz

Have you watched any of Manchester City’s games this season? They are a phenomenal team, right? While it is true that City have had an easier start to their campaign, take nothing away from their five wins from five games, in which they’ve scored 15 goals while only conceding four.

Man City’s 66-point haul from the 2015-16 campaign was their lowest since the 2008-09 season, which ultimately cost Manuel Pellegrini his job as manager. Pep Guardiola was appointed as City’s manager and the Spaniard has visibly reignited the passion that was missing from City last season.

Sergio Aguero looks like he’s in the form of his life, while Guardiola heaps praise on Kevin De Bruyne, claiming only the great Lionel Messi is currently better than his young Belgian star. We can see why he’s touted so highly.

City are odds-on favourites to win the league this season, and we think it goes without saying that whoever finishes above them will be crowned 2016-17 Premier League champions. That’s doesn’t look like happening, though.

Prediction: Champions

Liverpool: +550 (11/2) to win the Premier League

LFc Quiz

Liverpool has won English football’s top-flight title 18 times in its history, but you’ll need to peer all the way back to the 1989-90 season to find when that last occurred, which is far too long for a club the size and stature of Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has injected the team with confidence, belief and a childlike sense of exuberance and, at times at least, look like they could be genuine title contenders. Liverpool were awesome going forward when they beat Arsenal 4-3 on the road and scintillating in the 4-1 demolishing of defending champions Leicester in front of 53,075 fans — Liverpool’s highest attendance since 1977. Oh, and let’s not forget about Liverpool’s last performance, a 2-1 away win at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool, with a few more additions including a direly needed left back, will be set to challenge for the title. Unfortunately, they’re not quite there yet. Not playing in Europe is going to help keep Klopp’s squad fit, but we can’t see them, or anyone for that matter, pipping City at the top. It’s an exciting time for Liverpool fans, though. Look out for Liverpool in the F.A. Cup.

Prediction: Top four and a Champions League place

Manchester United: +1200 (12/1) to win the Premier League

MUFC

What a difference a week makes. Manchester United were, with odds of around +500, second favourites for the Premier League title last week. But after being outclassed at home to Manchester City and losing to Feyenoord in the Europa League, followed by a dismal 3-1 away defeat at the hands of Watford, United’s odds have drifted to +1200.

Self-proclaimed “Special One” Jose Mourinho has now lost a staggering 14 of his last 32 games; it previously took 105 games for Mourinho to lose as many games, a quite telling statistic.

The odds of a United title have drifted so wildly in the last week, but we have to remember that only a month of the season has transpired so the +1200 odds still represents decent value. Mourinho, though, has to fix whatever is wrong at Old Trafford very quickly.

With so much talent in the Man United squad, and the board’s willingness to support Mourinho in the transfer market, we think this latest blip in form is exactly that, a blip. Manchester United will qualify for the Champions League this season but fall short of their title aspirations.

Prediction: Top four finish and a Champions League place

footy

Relegation Predictions:

At the other end of the table, the bookmakers have Burnley as hot favourites (-137 or 8/11) to be relegated back to The Championship. Burnley has absolutely no attacking threat, which is cause for grave concern.

Sunderland already look doomed. They can’t rely on Jermain Defoe to score all their goals and don’t have a strong enough defense to keep enough clean sheets. David Moyes has an extremely difficult task on his hands to keep the Black Cats in the top flight.

Finally, keep an eye on Stoke City, currently +200 (3/1) to be relegated after their dreadful start to the campaign. Mark Hughes guided Stoke to a respectable ninth place last season, but they only have one point this season and have already conceded a staggering 14 goals.

They should have enough talent to stay up, but if the slump continues and Hughes loses his job, Stoke could find themselves in a real relegation scrap.

Prediction: Burnley, Sunderland & West Brom Relegated

The Title Race

EPL

The Title Race

The Premiership season is now in full swing and heavyweights Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea have all got off to a flying start, making them the three favourites to lift the famous trophy in May. The betting odds on all three have drifted in after each won both their opening games, while the odds on rivals like Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester have grown longer after less assured starts.

The 2016/17 season promised to showcase the most open and fascinating title in recent memory. Last season’s top three – surprise champions Leicester, Arsenal and Tottenham – were set to challenge once more. Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea had all slipped down the table and invested heavily in highly coveted new managers and some of the best players from across Europe, while Liverpool were tipped as a force under Jurgen Klopp and the likes of West Ham were even seen as being in with a chance.

That fabulous open race with eight teams vying for the title might still happen. But the early signs are ominous for all but City, Utd and Chelsea. Arsenal started as third favourites at 6/1 in the betting odds behind Man City and Man Utd. But a disastrous transfer window followed by a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Liverpool and a 0-0 draw with Leicester has seen them five points off the pace and drift out to 11/1 fourth favourites. Liverpool followed up that win with a miserable defeat by newly promoted Burnley and are 12/1 themselves. Tottenham have taken four points from their first two games, but they are out at 14/1 having not spent a great deal of money themselves in the summer.

Last season Leicester were 5000/1 to win the league but they pulled off a miracle and bet their big-spending rivals to the title. Nobody expected them to repeat the feat, especially after losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea and having to cope with the added pressures of playing Champions League football. They started the season with odds of 33/1 and a crushing opening day defeat at the hands of crisis club Hull and that 0-0 bore draw with Arsenal has seen them drift out to 66/1 with Bet365, Sky Bet and various other bookmakers.

While it is early days it seems like those teams may find themselves vying for fourth place if Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea keep up the good work. City have been a revelation under Pep Guardiola, who has won six titles in seven seasons with Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Striker Sergio Aguero is in red hot form – and a good bet at 5/2 with 888 Sport for the Golden Boot if he can stay fit – and the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva seem to enjoy playing Guardiola’s brand of possession football. They started the season with betting odds of 5/2 and were favourites to win it, despite only finishing fourth last season, and that is a reflection of the esteem in which Guardiola is held among the footballing community. They have since gone into 7/4 with Betfred, Bet Victor and Paddy Power after winning both their opening games and steam rollering Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.

The betting odds on them would probably be even shorter were it not for the resurgence taking place at local rivals Man Utd. In Jose Mourinho they have another born winner with a fantastic track record, and they have broken the world record transfer fee to sign Paul Pogba for their midfield, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a force to be reckoned with up front and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be a much needed source of creativity. They have gone in to 9/4 with some bookmakers, but you can still get 3/1 at Betway.

Finally Chelsea, who have also started with a 100% record, although they have looked the least comfortable in doing so as they have twice had to rely on last ditch Diego Costa strikes to win 2-1 at the death, and many have suggested he shouldn’t have even been on the pitch to score their last winner due to his persistent fouling. They are now 11/2 and third favourites in the betting odds chart, and of the three they look the one most likely to be sucked back into the battle with Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool et al.

It should still prove to be a thrilling battle, but right now it is hard to look past City and Utd, and if pushed you would have to say City have enough about them to finish top of the pile come May.

 

 

Who will win this years EPL?

EPL Quiz

After arguably one of the most unpredictable seasons in the history of top flight football in England, can the 2016/2017 season live up to expectations? Will the big four return to dominance? Can Leicester challenger for the title? Let’s have a look at 10 key talking points for the 2016/2017 Premier League Season….

  1. The Jose factor – With Jose Mourinho at the helm, the optimism of the Manchester fans has rightly increased the fever pitch. With established new faces on the playing surface and a potential game changer in Paul Pogba, the Moyes/Van Gaal era looks to be a distant memory. Mourinho has a proven track record of producing trophies in his first season in charge and a newly motivated manager, a resurgent Old Trafford crowd and an inspired team will strike fear into fellow contendors.
  1. Leicester City – Despite retaining Jamie Vardy, against many expectations, Leicester continue to lose vital elements from the team that shocked the football world last season. Can they cope without the likes of Kante? Can they re-ignite the team morale that resulted in the greatest upset in Premier League history? With the exodus of players and the failure to attract suitable replacements, it could be a long season for Leicester….but we all wrote them off last year and look what happened!
  1. Return of Moyes – Sunderland fans had high hopes after another great escape last season under Sam Allardyce. Failure at Euro 2016 resulted in those hopes fading as Sunderland parted ways with yet another manager. The mood on Wearside improved when David Moyes was appointed, and given his success with Everton, comparable in scale and ambition to Sunderland, a motivated David Moyes, seeking to right the wrongs he endured at Old Trafford, may enable Sunderland to be a surprise package of the season!
  1. Excitement at Emirates – Every season seems to bring pressure on Wenger. A sweepstake on when the first “Wenger out” sign will appear in the stand at the Emirates would breed an inevitable winner at Xmas time when the positive start has flopped. Missing transfer targets, apathy amongst the squad and a manager at the end of his teather….this could be a season where Arsenal finally drop out of the top four!
  1. Guardiola – Controversially appointed in the middle of last season, the expectation from what Pep Guardiola can achieve when he arrives at Manchester City has been building. Arguably the strongest squad in the league, if not Europe, the one thing City have always lacked is an overall focus and drive. That lack of team work has cost them dearly in the past but Pep might just the man to turn the team of individual talent into a dominant unit!
  1. Conte and Chelsea – During Euro 2016, the passion of Conte excited Chelsea fans, some of whom had an air of doubt about the Italian’s appointment. Indeed, with only two signings with only a week to go before the start of the season, there is cause for concern. Those signings are big name, proven quality players in Kante and Batshuayi, but still there is cause for concern as the squad that failed so memorably last year is still largely in tact. But if Conte and get the likes of Eden Hazard back on form, they could rise back to the cream of the crop.
  1. Spurs Surge – The achievements of Spurs was largely overlooked last year as Leicester sold headlines but Spurs rose to their bets ever finish and their first real title challenge in the Premier League era. The team has grown and developed sine and who knows what they can look to gain this year.
  1. Return of the Reds – Since the infamous slip incident that cost Liverpool their first Premier League title, Liverpool fans have suffered a rollercoaster of emotions. The pain from Basel last year still lives long, but after a full summer of rebuilding Jurgen Klopp has been quietly building a team that are difficult to beat and can score against any side. No team will look forward to visiting Anfield this season and a Champions League spot is well within reach!
  1. Down at the Riverside – Casual football fan have a soft spot in their hearts for Middlesbrough, fondly remembering the days of Juninho, Ravenelli and Emerson. But the team crashed and burned and have struggled to reach the summit of English football in recent years, finally putting everything together last year Re-enforcing his Championship winning squad with experience from abroad gives Middlesbrough a real chance at comfortable survival, and there should be some memorable nights at the Riverside.
  1. Who will be the surprise package? – It will take some doing to outdo the achievements of Leicester last season but who will shock the nation this year. Can Sunderland under David Moyes get back into the top 10? Will West Ham crown their move to a new home with a storming run? With Southampton loosing players and West Brom failing to improve, will there be a shock “Newcastle-style” relegation?

Whatever happens, strap in because we are on for another rollercoaster ride!

And for what it is worth here are our football tips today, The 2016/2017 season –

  1. Manchester City
  2. Manchester United
  3. Arsenal
  4. Chelsea
  5. Spurs
  6. Liverpool
  7. West Ham
  8. Everton
  9. Leicester
  10. Sunderland
  11. Southampton
  12. Stoke
  13. Swansea
  14. Crystal Palace
  15. Middlesborough
  16. Watford
  17. Hull City
  18. Bournemouth
  19. Burnley
  20. West Brom

Which EPL player can make a name for himself in France?

Euro 2016

The English Premier league may have come to a close with Leicester winning the title, and a major win for an anonymous better, but there won’t be a summer break for a good chunk of its players.

The EPL has a massive presence in the upcoming Euro 2016 in France. To be exact, 105 Premier League players will be attending this summer’s tournament. To put it into perspective against top European leagues, the Bundesliga has 61, Seria A has 51, La Liga has 35 and Ligue 1 has 21.

Surprisingly enough, Liverpool are the ones with the highest presence at the competition with 12 players. They are followed by Tottenham (11), Manchester United (10) and Arsenal (8).

A major portion of these players are already known well-enough for their abilities, else they wouldn’t be much of a consideration to join their nations at the Euro. Of course, success doesn’t have a ceiling, and most of them could reinforce their place in the football world, or even better – etch their names in the football hall of fame.

This is the major event for the English Bookmakers, especially with an promising English team this year. This year they did not only build their main odds around the games, but also invented a special football slot for the breaks in between.

We’ve taken a look at EPL’s most promising talent, and singled out a few key individuals that may hit the spotlight in France.

Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy – England’s prominent attacking duo

2015/16 was Leicester’s season, but for that reason Tottenham’s remarkable run was heavily overshadowed. A team that usually struggles for top four were now legitimate title contenders, up until that bittersweet end.

Kane was Tottenham’s main star, he topped the EPL goal scoring chart by hitting the net 25 times, one more than Aguero and Vardy.

He has made appearances for England’s U21 sides prior to 2015, scoring a few goals here and there. In 2015, however, he was called up to England’s senior squad. He made his debut against Lithuania during qualification, scoring in under two minutes after he was subbed in.

The story wrote itself throughout the season, and Hodgson didn’t have to overthink whether he should call him up as a striker in France. This promising 22-year-old is not only a present time threat, but a valuable asset to England’s future.

Vardy’s story is a bit different, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. It’s so rarely that a player hits his prime at this age, but this 29-year-old’s stunning campaign only began this season. He broke Van Nistelrooy’s record by scoring in 11 consecutive matches in the Premier League. In total this season, he scored 24 goals, a number which could’ve been greater if it wasn’t for his late season injury.

Vardy’s international debut ensued in 2015 against Ireland, but his first goal was on 26 March 2016 against Germany, and what a goal it was. A wonderful back heel shot that left fans in awe. Vardy scored again not long thereafter against The Netherlands, a match which England ultimately lost 1:2.

Kane and Vardy are a big part of the reason England is finally being considered a legitimate contender to take the Euro title. They add a new dimension to their attack, and we’ll certainly expect plenty of goals between the two of them.

Dimitri Payet – France, West Ham

West Ham’s Dimitri Payet wasn’t much of a consideration for the French squad when the 2015/16 season began. However, his excellent performance for his club throughout the season had him beeping on Deschamps’ radar.

This attacking midfielder’s international debut was back in 2010, when France was under Laurent Blanc. He’s been on and off for his national side since then, never impressing too much.

After he was recalled in March of 2016 to play vs Russia and The Netherlands, he exhibited two remarkable performances, which led to heaps of praise from Deschamps and fans alike.

Payet is swift, technically gifted and a dangerous dribbler. He not only scores goals, but creates them as well. Whenever France is playing, his presence on the pitch is very noticeable.

If Payet’s impressive run of form continues in Euro 2016, we’re all but doubtful that he’ll hit the spotlight when it matters most. Undoubtedly, he has the potential to play a big part in any potential French success at the competition. Then, his name will truly be heard.

Kevin de Bruyne – Belgium, Manchester City

This Belgian and Man City playmaker has been slowly making waves in the football world. The remarkable vision and influence on the field this 24-year-old possesses make him a valuable asset to any squad.

Already he’s earning heaps of praise from teammates and football fans. His performance on a club and international level has been astute, despite a mid-season injury in January.

It’s no secret that he’s a no brainer for Belgium’s squad in France. In fact, we’re certain he’ll be featured in the starting lineup alongside Hazard and Lukaku as an attacking-minded force.

His international debut was back in 2010, and so far he’s earned 39 caps and 13 goals for his nation. Belgium is a strong contender for top four at this summer’s tournament, but many also consider this talented nation to win the title itself.

Whatever happens in France, de Bruyne will be instrumental to Belgium’s success.

 

 

Atletico out for revenge in Champions League Madrid reunion

UCL

Atletico out for revenge in Champions League Madrid reunion In a repeat of the Champions League 2014, Real Madrid will face city neighbours Atletico in this year’s final.

Any game of this magnitude is guaranteed to offer up a vast range of betting offers and any nuggets of information can be useful when it comes to deciding how to use any that might come your way in the run- up to the big game on Saturday 28th May.

In addition to checking out any pre-match previews you can lay your hands on for football tips as to team news, injuries, tactics and statistics, a brush-up on some of the FootieQuiz trivia questions on the Champions League, La Liga and the two finalists themselves could also provide some invaluable insight and background.

Two years ago Real Madrid secured their Champions League decima with an extra-time 4-1 victory in the Estadio da Luz, Lisbon.  That scoreline really didn’t do Atletico Madrid justice, with Sergio Ramos only equalizing for Real deep into stoppage-time before three goals in the second period of extra-time put a hugely flattering gloss on the final score for Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Atletico have been making amends ever since.  The teams have met on 10 occasions in all competitions since the 2014 final, with Los Blancos winning just once and, for all their attacking prowess, the have mustered just six goals in those games.  By contrast, the Rojiblancos have won five of those matches and certainly won’t go into this year’s final suffering from any inferiority complex.

Nobody could argue that Atleti don’t deserve their place in Milan either, with them having accounted for the two pre-tournament favourites – Barcelona and Bayern Munich – at the quarter and semi-final stage respectively.  Indeed, should they see off their city neighbours, there would be a definite argument for Atletico having overcome the most testing draw in history to secure the top prize in club football.

Then there’s the Atletico defensive record.  The one thing that you can guarantee from a Diego Simeone team is that they will be organised and difficult to breakdown.  This season’s 35 clean sheets in 56 matches in all competitions is a remarkable achievement.  It’s also worth noting that nobody has beaten Atleti by more than a one-goal margin since Celta Vigo on 15th February 2015.  The 2016 Champions League final is destined to be tight.

There are a variety of ways to stay onside with Atletico for the final. For 90-minute bets, there’s Atletico +0.25 on the Asian Handicap (in the event of a draw, half your stake would be matched at the winning price and the remaining half would be returned to your account) at 5/6 with Bet365,  the 2/1 with William Hill on Real Madrid not to score or the 0-0 correct score is 7/1 with BetVictor.  Taking any potential extra- time and penalties into account, Atletico Madrid to win the trophy is 11/10 (2.10) with Paddy Power.

 

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Tottenham contingent to spearhead England challenge this summer

The emergence of Dele Alli this season has been a real positive for both club and country.The former MK Dons man has enjoyed a stellar first season in the Premier League and having made his international debut back in November, is now one of the first names on the team sheet as England look to claim glory in this summer’s European Championships. Along with his Tottenham team mates Harry Kane, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker, the England team could have a very familiar look to it in France.

Sitting at the top of the Premier League goal scoring charts, Harry Kane has been in prolific form in recent months, leading to many suggesting that he should be a shoe in for a starting position in Roy Hodgson’s starting eleven. With Kane competing for an attacking birth with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy, a continuation of his form from now and the end of the season could all but guarantee a start in Engand’s opening fixture against Russia. Indeed bookmakers Coral make the Spurs front man 1/12 on to do so.

Having spent his youth developing his talents at the Sporting Lisbon academy in Portugal, Eric Dier made himself a crucial part of Tottenham’s success since his arrival in London. Recent performances in the heart of midfield for the Three Lions, including a winning goal in Berlin, now look likely to ensure Dier earns a place in the starting eleven for England. His rise to fame has been long predicted, with many clubs fighting for his services upon his return to England. Another player who has seen his club form turn into international recognition is Danny Rose. The left back made his debut in the recent victory over Germany and having been criticised earlier on in his career, is now fighting back with his performances at the highest level. Perhaps still finding himself down in the pecking order for England, Rose still faces a fight to make the final squad for Euro 2016.

Tottenham’s England contingent are certainly proving that you do not need to spend mega bucks on foreign imports, with many of them having risen to fame at lower league clubs. It remains to be seen just how far they can take England this summer. With the fact that one shock win can upset the Euro 2016 odds, England will be looking to make a fast start in their opening fixture against Russia. Coral make Hodgson’s men the 9/1 fourth favourites to claim glory in France.

Tottenham meanwhile face off against Liverpool this weekend as they look to close the gap on Premier League leaders Leicester City.

Alternative National Leagues Worth your Time

Barclays Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A in Italy. When it comes to national leagues, the big four dominate in terms of attendance figures, TV revenue, column inches and champions league success. In terms of people through the turnstiles, the Premier League comes out on top with 13,746,753 tickets in the 2014-15 season, followed by the Bundesliga (13,321,531), La Liga (10,161,726) and Serie A (8,440,903). The Championship in England actually has higher figures than the Italian top league: last season, a total of 9,771,471 fans watched their team trying to make it to the top table of English and global football, all according to ESPN FC statistics.

Still, there is a world outside of these leagues. Though there is no doubt that some of the world’s best players ply their trade for clubs in them, there are definitely real and compelling arguments for focusing your attention on other, often ignored leagues.

What’s in it for me?

We should never need an excuse to learn more about the beautiful game, but why should we divert our attention away from those leagues we know and love?

This year’s EPL aside, it is often the case that in August you can make a pretty good guess who will be sat pretty in the top slots of the league next May. The bigger the leagues, the more money there is, and the more that money tends to get concentrated in a small handful of clubs. As a rule of thumb, that cycle is harder and harder to break. In most other leagues that is not so much the case. The difference in spending power between the top and bottom clubs is often not as pronounced, leading to a less static state of affairs – more unpredictability and thus more excitement.

Increasing your knowledge of a league or leagues is fantastic when it comes to niche knowledge regarding players or clubs. You will be able to astound friends, colleagues and quizmaster alike with your encyclopaedic knowledge of the Belgian 3rd division. Plus, every team from the big four leagues is looking to bring in the stars from the other leagues across Europe and beyond. So when everyone else is scratching their heads at Chelsea’s new “next big thing”, you’ll be able to speak with authority about his attacking prowess but unwillingness to track back.

Also, Why limit yourself to betting on the couple of leagues you currently follow? By spreading your net across multiple countries and leagues you will be giving yourself a hell of a better chance of being able to fill your weekly accumulator with games you are actually confident about.

A total of 61 different leagues provided players for the 2014 world cup in Brazil. Of the 736 players representing their countries, 321 (43%) of those came from the top 4 leagues. That leaves 415 players who earn their corn in the world’s other leagues. What may come as a surprise is that if we only choose those players still around in the semi-finals the stats aren’t that much different, with 41 (45%) of the 92 remaining players coming from so-called lesser leagues. With the Euro ‘16 just around the corner, it is a good time to expand your knowledge to some of the other players who will be looking to shine at the second most prestigious tournament on the planet. Once again, it will only help you when it comes to placing that accumulator.

So with all those leagues out there, which ones are worth checking out?

Brasileirão – Brazil

It is hard to ignore Brazil when it comes to football conversations. The Brasileirão, or officially the Brasileirão Chevrolet, due to the American car giant’s recent sponsorship deal, is not as well-known as you would think based on the impact their international team and players have had on the game. However, the Brazilian domestic league is where all the great Brazilian players of the past have started, and clubs such as Corinthians, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama have as rich a tradition as their more familiar European counterparts. Half the fun of watching the Brasileirão is spotting the next players likely to make the move to Europe, while you are also likely to come across some of the most audacious tricks and goals you will ever witness.

Ligue 1 – France

The French top league has always been the “nearly” man of the Old Continent. Clubs like Monaco and Marseille have had success on the European stage, but they haven’t been able to maintain it for sustained periods of time. The league was more famed for its exports than for those stars joining from abroad. The rise of Paris Saint Germain – or perhaps the rise of PSG’s budget – has changed that. One of the, if not the richest clubs in the world (depending on what criteria you use), PSG are now recognized as one of the very real contenders for Champions League glory. They also have one of the world’s most genuine superstars in Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Even before we came to know Thierry Henry, there was a tradition of exciting French players lighting up the Premier league. Several more players have been touted as making a move across the channel in the summer. Top of many people’s list is Brazilian centre back Marquinhos, currently winning plaudits – and headers and challengers – at PSG.

Primeira Liga – Portugal

Ronaldowww.joe.co.uk

José Mourinho and Ronaldo are the two most famous things about Portugal at the moment, never mind Portuguese football.  But the Primeira Liga has a fine tradition, and 5th in the UEFA coefficient rankings. Sporting, Benfica and Porto are three of the greats of European football of the last 60 years. Benfica achieved back-to-back European Cup success in 1960 – ‘61 and ’61 – ’62. Sporting won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1963 – ’64 while Porto have 2 UEFA/Europa League titles and 2 European Cup/Champions League trophies, most famously in 2003-4 under Mourinho.

Eredivisie – Holland

Ajax
05-05-2013 Ajax – Willem II in De ArenA. www.gxsoftware.com

Naming the Dutch league is a decent quiz question in itself. Given the history of Dutch football and its celebrated clubs and players, it is surprising that the Eredivisie (literally “the honour league”) formed in 1956, is not more famous. Though the cream of the Dutch talent do tend to leave for more profitable pastures, it is still a very competitive league and Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord can hold their heads up in any company when it comes to tradition and honours won. Since 1970, when Dutch football really burst onto the club and international scene forcing people to sit up and take note of this wonderful new style of playing the game, clubs from the Eredivisie have won no less than 16 European competitions. Other European leagues boast many players and managers who originally plied their trade in the Netherlands, but there is still a lot of talent in this league. At the semi-final stage of the 2014 world cup, no less than 10 players came from the Dutch league.

Whatever your reason for doing it, there isn’t a downside to be found in expanding your football knowledge. With today’s multiple sport channels plus internet streaming, it is possible to watch live games from everywhere in the world, and even partake in some in-play betting. By choosing leagues from different countries, and different time zones, it also means that you are one step closer to every fan’s dream – round the clock live football. I rest my case.

 

Will Leicester City finish in the top four this season?

Leicester City Quiz

After 23 games, Leicester City have a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League table. The Foxes have been superb throughout the first half of the campaign and stand a genuine chance of finishing in the top four at the very least this season.

Since taking over at the club, Claudio Ranieri has transformed this Leicester side from relegation candidates to title contenders. Here’s why Leicester WILL finish in the top four this season. Ultimately, they are fresher than their top four rivals. Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool have all been involved in European competition throughout the season and may pay the price for this towards the end of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Leicester will still be relatively fresh – especially as they were knocked out of both cup competitions in the earlier rounds.

Plenty of punters will be visiting online bookmakers, such as Coral, to place their bets on Leicester finishing in the top four this season. After their impressive start, it’s hard to see them slowing down and the Foxes are currently priced at 2/5 in the football odds markets. If they continue to dominate matches, Ranieri’s men stand an excellent chance of achieving this and some supporters will already have one eye on a dream title victory.

Ranieri has built his squad around his two top talents: Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.  Earlier in the campaign, Vardy became the first player in Premier League history to score in 11 consecutive fixtures.  The former non-league star has been an inspiration to young footballers across England and his antics – both on and off the field – have seen him grab the headlines on more than one occasion this season.

However, it is perhaps Mahrez who deserves the majority of the plaudits. Football is a team game but without individual talent, every team would struggle. Mahrez has been in the form of his life and has influenced games almost single-handedly at times this season. He has scored 13 goals, as well as assisting many others and the Algeria international is a real handful. In fact, Leicester will do well to hang on to Mahrez as Europe’s elite clubs have all been linked with a move for the winger.

Why can’t Leicester City win the title… stranger things have happened in the past. While it would be incredibly bizarre, the Foxes look as though they could last the distance this season and Coral are currently offering football odds of 8/1 on Leicester to win the league. It’s almost impossible to comprehend but on current form, there’s absolutely no reason why the Foxes cannot achieve their dream goal. This has been one of the craziest Premier League seasons of all-time and a Leicester title win would be the icing on the proverbial cake.

January Transfer Window

Transfer Window

Who will be the busiest in this January’s Transfer Window ?

The transfer window this January could turn out to be an interesting one. Even Arsene Wenger looks like putting his hand in his pocket this time. There are deals to be done as clubs strive to stay in the league and make the most of the riches on offer from the new television deal.

But it doesn’t feel like there will be big deals. It feels like a rush for quantity rather than quality. Bournemouth have added depth with three signings so far. Liverpool have taken Steven Caulker on loan for defensive cover. Leicester have got a bargain in Demarai Gray, but he looks like on for the future rather than a first-teamwork this season.

Here’s our guide to the clubs we expect to be adding to their squad the most.

Sunderland

Sam Allardyce has stated time and again that he believes the key to survival is clean sheets. But the defence that he inherited isn’t capable of this. John O’Shea and Wes Brown are fast approaching the end of their careers but still look steadier than Sebastian Coates. It looks like they need to add several more defenders to have any chance of picking up enough points to survive. Expect some typical Big Sam wheeling and dealing. Loans may be on the cards as the owner Ellis Short always seems reluctant to spend.

Arsenal

They have walked into their usual injury crisis but without any of the usual signs of young quality players breaking through. This may be the January that Wenger adds heavily to his squad. Backup central defenders, defensive midfielders (when don’t Arsenal need a defensive midfielder?) and cover for Olivier Giroud are all needed. Will Wenger see this as the biggest opportunity in over a decade to win the league? If so, will he spend to secure that title? You never know with a man as stubborn as Arsene Wenger.

West Brom

It may seem strange for a team that are 9 points ahead of the drop zone to be frantically looking over their shoulder but that’s the situation West Brom find themselves in. If they lose Saido Berahino then goals go from being a problem to a crisis. They will have to spend to plug this gap. Creativity is a longstanding issue so some midfield purchases may also be on the cards.

Swansea City

The club are in freefall. It’s not clear whether they appointed Alan Curtis as manager because he impressed or because nobody else wanted the job. Jonjo Shelvey has just left and there’s £12m from his sale ready to reinvest.

They need goals, midfield power and a partner for Ashley Williams in central defence. It will be difficult to clear all of these up in one window so some loan deals or short-term moves may be in order.

Whatever the transfer window brings, there’s bound to be some surprise deals and some late drama.

This article was produced by Steve Thompson of In Off the Post. You can read more of his articles on his blog: http://inofftheblogpost.blogspot.co.uk/

Why has van Gaal abandoned a successful formula?

Man Utd Badge
 He tried it once, it was remarkably successful and yet he hasn’t used it again, amazing!
Instead he has resorted to boring football whereby the fans, the ones who are still awake at least, have taken to calling him nasty names and wanting him to find alternative employment. Is this what it has come to?This is how it all came about.Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal fancied a shorter, more memorable monicker. He decided that what he needed to do, quite wisely, was to drop the Maria bit, not advertise too much the Paulus bit and shorten the Aloysius bit to Louis. Thus the transformation to Louis van Gaal was complete and so began his success.

Wholesale changes hadn’t been required here. This was not a case of being christened Marion, for example. Any male christened Marion should immediately, (or as soon as they are old enough, at least), change his name to John. Why he should then feel the need to change his surname from Morrison to Wayne is beyond me, but it worked out OK for him..

So obviously, the thing to do to ensure success at Manchester United was to try the name change method with his players.

The guinea-pig, it was decided, would be Chris Smalling.

Louis had deemed the name “Chris” to be ambiguous and more suitable for a girl, not a rugged centre back who plays for Manchester United and England. So, from now on, he was to be known as Mike.

If the truth be known, this experiment had been underway for quite a while. Indeed van Gaal trialled it at a press conference on the pre-season tour, but, when he referred to Smalling as “Mike”, everybody just thought he was an ageing manager with a terrible memory for names.

The fact that they have one of the best defensive records in the division is down, in no small way, to Mike Smalling. Yes, De Gea has helped, as usual, but it has been mainly through the efforts of Mike that this proud boast can be made.

So why has he now stopped? Just when everything was going so well, he capitulated and left the rest of the players with their own names! How can he expect to be successful like that?

Since reverting to type, United have gone out of the Capital One Cup and out of the Champions League. He needs to start renaming players and quickly.

If this is to happen then any new players signed by United will have to agree, contractually, to Louis being allowed to give them a new name of his choice, (usually Mike), should he think that it will be of benefit to the team. This is because, with the exception of continually selecting Wayne Rooney, everything Louis does is for the team, which is forever more important than ANY individual, (except Rooney).

Not only will this make United a shoe-in for the title but it will also mean that van Gaal will never again get a player’s name wrong, not that he did before.

So, assuming the unmitigated success of this process, (or is it a philosophy?), next year expect Mike Smalling to be playing in front of Mike De Gea and alongside Mike Blind and Mike Rojo. In front of him will be the likes of Mike Mata and Mike Schweinsteiger with Mike Herrera and Mike Depay vying for places in a packed midfield.

There will be two problems that van Gaal will face and that he needs to overcome. One is that Carrick is already called Mike, so it won’t work for him and may even destroy the collective bond the rest of the team will have built up through all being called Mike.

Carrick will need to be known as “John”. This is the only way the equilibrium of the team can be maintained.

In fairness to Aloysius and Chris, this renaming process was producing results. Louis van Gaal’s team rose to fourth in the Premier league table, only four points off the lead and they have one of the best defensive records in the division.

The other problem is Wayne Rooney. I have watched his decline for the last three seasons or more and changing his name, even if it’s to Cristiano Ronaldo Quiz or Lionel Messi, just will not work. He’s gone too far past redemption for something as simple as a name change to make any difference.

Iain Anderson

Is Mauro Biello better than Frank Klopas?

Montreal Impact Quiz

Photo Credit: Eric Bolte of USA Today

Frank Klopas was the head coach and director of player development at the beginning of the 2015 season.  This arrangement did not last until the end of the season.  Why did he not last?  Of course, the main reason is the record of 16-16-26 since he took over before the start of the 2014 season.  In addition, the players grew frustrated with his style and methods of managing.  As mentioned in the article by Lloyd Barker http://montrealgazette.com/sports/soccer/mls/montreal-impact/lloyd-barker-klopass-puzzling-moves-helped-speed-his-departure (2015):

Klopas’s lineups had been a talking point virtually throughout his tenure as Impact head coach.  True to form, it was no different against TFC.  Seven of the Impact starters against TFC were playing their third match in only seven days.  That’s a tough request.  Two of the other four starters were playing their second match in only four days — not exactly an easy task, either.  Both of TFC’s goals exposed the Impact’s high level of fatigue.  It’s not like Klopas had no other options.  In fact, he had multiple reliable and well-rested choices: defenders Eric Miller and Wandrille Lefèvre; midfielder Eric Alexander and striker Anthony Jackson-Hamel who all started on the bench.  Klopas did use Miller, but made a mind-boggling change when Miller was substituted into the game in place of Romero, an attacker, with the Impact down a goal in the 80th minute.  It was a head-scratcher, one that only Klopas could try to rationalize.  It’s no wonder the unhappiness and frustration of the players had been so evident during the past several weeks.

In addition, there was the issue with Patrice Bernier that came to the surface.  His wife posted on Facebook that Bernier’s treatment is “unacceptable and disrespectful”.  After these comments, Bernier decided to take a leave from absence from the team.  This player is one of the leaders of the team and now he was taking a leave of absence.  One cannot underestimate leadership with in the team dynamic.  After the loss to the Impact’s rival, TFC, Klopas was dismissed from his duties.

Montreal named Mauro Biello as the interim head coach.  This coach and former player is actually from Montreal.  He actually played for the Montreal Impact  on three separate occasions.  He brought the pride he had for playing for the Impact in to the coaching position.  The players noticed this but pride alone did not turn around this season.  Biello has shown an ability to navigate from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 with ease.  Once they are in a 4-3-3 this is beneficial for the Impact as they now have three central midfielders, in addition they had to cover less ground.  Against Toronto FC in last week’s playoff match they deployed the 4-3-3 with Ignacio Piatti playing at the left flank, this gave Piatti a chance to have a creative impact (pun intended) on the match.  With the addition of Didier Drogba and Biello’s tactical nuisances, let us see how far they make it in the playoffs.  For the time being, Biello they look the better fit for the Impact!

Playoffs: Major League Soccer Style!

MLS 2015 Bracket

 Image provided by mlssoccer.com

What does Major League Soccer (MLS) do differently than most of the footballing world? One word says it all: PLAYOFFS! Most soccer leagues around the world do not have playoffs. The season is played; the team at the top of table wins the league. This is not the case in Major League Soccer. First, there is not one table; there are two tables in this league. Since the league covers a vast amount of land in two countries, the owners thought it best to split the league in to an Eastern and Western conference. In addition, the majority of games played by each team will occur within their own conference. Reducing wear and tear throughout the season, as most teams travel by air to matches was the thought behind this. This means there is not a balance schedule.

With the two expansion franchises of New York City FC and Orlando City SC that entered the league this year, this takes the total amount of teams to 20. At the beginning of the season with the expansion of these new teams, the commissioner announced an expansion of playoff teams to 12. Yes, that is right; more than 50% of the league gets a ticket in to the playoffs. This caused much consternation amongst MLS circles. Even though fans were and still are wary of this many teams obtaining access to the playoffs, almost every team was still involved in the playoff hunt in to the last month of the season. From a business perspective that was the goal to ensure fans were engaged for as long as possible since there is no promotion or regulation.

Six teams from each conference get in to the playoffs. The top seed from each conference obtains home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The team with the best record overall no matter the conference has home field advantage for the MLS Cup if they make it to that point. This year that team is the New York Red Bulls. The first two seeded teams from each conference receives a bye while the third through six seeded teams compete in a one game knockout round match. The excitement is that once in the playoffs start anyone can win the cup. For most purest this does not seem fair as the team with the best record should be crown champion. In North American sports, this is the norm for over a century to have playoffs. The thinking is that if you really are the best then a team needs to play against the best with the highest pressure on them. The regular season is considered a ramp up to the playoffs and then finally to the MLS Cup match. There is not a right or wrong way to crown a champion; this is just another avenue to accomplish this.

Knockout round matches start October 28, 2015

For more United States based soccer content, please click on the link below to access my soccer blog.

https://wordhec.wordpress.com/

Thanks!

Hec

 

Klopp to Liverpool

klopp

As Liverpool FC make the announcement that Jurgen Klopp has been named their latest manager, a lot has been written about whether he will be successful. I think that Liverpool have found an identikit manager for the way the club has been directed by Fenway Sports Group since they took over.

What do I mean?
Well, I can see big parallels between the running of Liverpool and that of Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s time in charge there. Brendan Rodgers had to deal with losing big name players, and Klopp had the same pressures at Dortmund. Liverpool will probably maintain that they only lost their players under duress but the fact remains that some big stars departed the club:
When?                         Who?                          Notes
Summer 2015                Steven Gerrard             Would have stayed if offered a coaching role

Summer 2015                Raheem Sterling          Wanted Champions League football

Summer 2014                Luis Suarez                    Wanted Barcelona

Summer 2013                Andy Carroll                   Sold for £15 million

Borussia Dortmund couldn’t compete financially with the biggest clubs in Europe, with their national rivals Bayern Munich being one of those teams they couldn’t match Euro for Euro. They simply had to sell when the price was right, or when they couldn’t match the wages when the bigger clubs came in-

When?                             Who?                    Notes
Summer 2014          Robert Lewandowski – out of contract, went to Bayern Munich

Summer 2013          Mario Gotze – scored winner in World Cup Final

Summer 2012          Shinji Kagawa – has now returned

Summer 2011           Nuri Sahin – out of contract, Bundesliga player of the season

Unless Liverpool make major changes to their income, such as a new much bigger stadium or regular progress to the latter stages of the Champions League year after year then Klopp will be working under the same conditions again. He will have to act as Klopp The Dortmund manager when he is working as Klopp the Liverpool manager. And this is the main reason that I think in the long-term he will be a success. He will be operating in the same way under very similar conditions to these he experienced when he was successful.

Similarity is how top managers thrive. Mourinho has been successful with big money clubs – Porto (big money for the Portuguese league), Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid have all afforded him petty big transfer budgets and he has generally come up trumps. One of the main reasons I think that David Moyes failed at Manchester United. He had a defensive team working under a really tight budget and working his scouting team hard to find bargains at Everton. The jump to the world’s biggest club, fans expecting attacking, flowing football and the choice of the best players money could buy was too much for him. Klopp won’t have the same issues as he is swapping like for like.

The one quote that really stands out from his unveiling was the following “If I am sitting here in four years, we will win one title [piece of silverware] in this time.” This is a man of great confidence and someone who has done it before. I think that Klopp is a manager who has a vision for how he wants his team to play and he understands his matchbook. Borussia Dortmund played hard at the transition or breakdown and to achieve this, Klopp and his team worked on fitness levels. The players were able to get back into formation quickly and break at pace when they win the ball. I think that trying to achieve this mid-season is far more difficult to do than when putting in the ground work in pre-season. Because of this, I think that Liverpool may struggle with fitness levels this season and maybe the players will not be able to apply Klopp’s methods. After this season, I think that Klopp is right that he’ll at least be challenging for the Premier League title.

 

Underrated Leeds United keepers

Ellend Roadccby Ingy The Wingy

Leeds United fans have been blessed with a number of memorable goalkeepers over the years. Whether it’s the reliable Nigel Martyn, the calamitous Paul Rachubka or the rotund Paddy Kenny, the Mighty Whites have seen the good, the VERY bad and the ugly when it comes to keepers in recent seasons. But while a lot of Leeds’ number ones have made headlines for their performances – we’re looking at you Paul Rachubka (see below) – there have been a few keepers in recent years who have gone about their business with minimal fuss.

In what is always such a tight league, Leeds’ current number one, Marco Silvestri, has already made a couple of errors this season that have not helped the club in terms of convincing the betting public, and the West Yorkshire side are at the time of writing at 6/1 with betfair to make the play-offs this season. In fact, a good number of the Elland Road faithful would probably rather have one or two of the goalkeepers listed below between the posts rather than the erratic Italian this year.

Their names might not always come up when fans select their favourite Leeds team,or in many of the football quizzes on this site but here are some of those underrated shot-stoppers who have graced Elland Road during the club’s recent and troubled history.

Shane Higgs: After moving to Leeds from Cheltenham in 2009, Higgs battled with Casper Ankergren for the number one jersey during the club’s promotion-winning season from League One. While Higgs was forced to play second fiddle to the Danish shot-stopper for the majority of the season, the frankly dashing veteran played a crucial role in the club getting over the finish line during the final few weeks of the campaign, including that now famous 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers that saw the Whites book a return to the second tier of England football.

Casper Ankergren: The majority of the squad that secured promotion back into the Championship will long be remembered fondly by Leeds fans – Gary McSheffrey aside – and not many gained as much of a cult following as Casper Ankergren. Having arrived at the club from Brondby in 2007, the Dane went on to make over 120 appearances for the club, establishing himself as a fan favourite during his three year stay at the club. Playing in a team that struggled to get out of League One despite spending the majority of their time in the third tier being tipped for promotion to the Championship by most sportsbooks throughout his time in Yorkshire, Ankergran will long be remembered fondly by Leeds fans.

Andy Lonergan: Part of the reason why the former Preston goalkeeper is held in such high regard by Leeds fans, despite spending just a single season at Elland Road, could well be down to the fact that Lonergan’s presence ensured Paul Rachubka only had a few opportunities to produce howlers of such biblical proportions. Lonergan was an extremely solid number one and a player many Leeds fans would have liked to have kept, and it was only Neil Warnock’s obsession with signing Paddy Kenny wherever he went that ended his time at Elland Road. Lonergan was quickly snapped up by Fulham in the summer after leaving Bolton, and the 31-year old looks set to have a big role to play in a team that are priced at around 7/1 to secure a top-six finish with most bookmakers.

Title Contenders for the 2015-2016 Premier league Season

It’s that time of the year again when we predict the premier league title contenders for the upcoming season. Last year I predicted the title race to be a straight fight between the two richest clubs of the league i.e. Manchester city and Chelsea. However, it didn’t really turn out to be a fight as Chelsea pretty much ran the show for a large part of the season. Manchester city drew level for a short time but that was the only occasion during the whole of last Season that any team can close to toppling Chelsea. However, this time around I expect it to be different.

I expect Chelsea to be involved again in the title race but only a few teams in premier league’s history have managed to retain their crown so I expect the upcoming season to be a bit of challenge for Chelsea. Also, Chelsea works with a small pool of players which can be a cause of concern for Jose Mourinho. Only a few injuries could hinder the quality of football Chelsea play as they will be reliant on academy players to fill the gap left by the “World class” injured players.

Manchester City has addressed the area that made their offence predictable and easy to defend. That area was the lack of pace in the team. The left side of defensive midfield is what City has added pace to with the recruitment of Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling. However, Manchester City still hasn’t addressed its Achilles heel which is the left back position. Teams will exploit Manchester City’s defense time and time again if the club not address this key issue.

Manchester United was clearly lacking depth in midfield last season whenever Carrick wasn’t playing. However, the club has addressed this key issue with activity in the transfer market. Van Gaal has done well to add experience and quality to the squad with the recruitment of two world-class players like Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. Also, United will not miss Di Maria too much as Dupay looks real quality .However, United’s two key issues from last season remain unaddressed i.e. the forward and back line. I don’t see United being much of a threat unless and until they buy a top quality center back and a pure finisher.

Arsenal have recruited well this season but until and unless Arsene Wenger changes or compromises a bit on his football philosophy, I cannot see Arsenal winning the league or even genuinely challenging for the title. Liverpool hasn’t really challenged for the title in the past two decades and I expect the upcoming season to be no different for them.If you want to see all the title contenders and pretenders in action then there are several websites where you can buy football tickets. You can check out the club website or visit a ticketing website like  livefootballtickets.com and get your tickets for the upcoming season.

Could all three promoted teams survive in the 2015/2016 Premier League?

Although most of the focus will be on who will be crowned Premier League champions at the end of season, it is always fascinating to watch how the three promoted teams fare in their attempts to establish themselves as a top flight club. Fans of Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich will hope that they will not go straight back down to the Championship, and will be backed by neutrals who root for the underdogs. Strong performances throughout 2014/2015 has already led to suggestions that all three could make headlines and survive in the Premier League for the first time since 2002, but although they may have to continue strengthening their squad during the summer transfer window, there is a case to be made for each of the promoted sides to have an impact.

Bournemouth

It has been a remarkable few years on the South coast at Bournemouth who have gone from being on the brink of exiting the Football League to reaching the Premier League in the space of five years. Eddie Howe has done a wonderful job on a fairly limited budget to create a dangerous side that score plenty of goals from all areas of the pitch, and although many expect them to find the leap from the Championship to the top flight too much to handle, Bournemouth have more than enough about them to surprise everyone and give the big guns a real run for their money. The £8 million acquisition of highly-rated defender Tyrone Mings is a real statement of intent from Bournemouth who smashed their transfer record in the process, while fellow new arrivals Sylvain Distin, Josh King and Adam Federici represent strong signings that have added experience and quality to the team. With confidence sky-high at the Goldsands Stadium and the quality of free-flowing football they play, Howe has the ability to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League.

Watford

Many were left surprised by the breakdown between Watford and Slaviska Jokanovic who was instrumental in guiding the club to the Premier League, but the appointment of Quique Sanchez Flores could prove to be a masterstroke. The Spaniard has already set his stall out by not only signing Sebastian Prodl and turning Matej Vydra’s loan from Udinese into a permanent deal, but also shelling out for Tottenham’s Ettiene Capoue who will add more steel and quality to the midfield department. Lithuania number one Giedrius Arlauskis has also arrived to provide competition for Heurelho Gomes, and with more arrivals at Vicarage Road expected, they could have the quality to avoid going straight back down. It remains to be seen what style of football Watford will play under their new manager, but if Quique Sanchez Flores has the same effect with the Hornets that he did with Valencia between 2005 and 2007, then they could survive comfortably.

Norwich

Norwich, like Watford, may be able to call upon previous Premier League experience in an effort to become accustomed to life as a top flight club again. Their promotion via the play-offs is largely thanks to the wonderful job that Alex Neil has done since replacing Neil Adams as manager at the start of 2015; the Canaries surged up the Championship table as they lost just three of their twenty-two league fixtures, before getting past Ipswich and Middlesbrough to seal their return to the Premier League. Norwich have added midfield powerhouse Youssouf Mulumbu to their squad, but although they have the quietest of the three promoted teams in the transfer market so far, they already have a squad that is more than capable of competing at the highest level.

 

The Internet and Gambling

The internet has revolutionised the way in which we do many things in life, not more so than Mecca Bingo. Ever since the launch of the world wide web there has been an ever growing array of gambling options online from the casinos, to the betting exchanges all the way through to traditional sports betting. Phone accounts and trips to the local bookmakers for the afternoon are a thing of the past and with a simple click of the mouse you can now gamble more easily, more quickly and on a wider range of sports than ever before.

There are number of ways in which this change has affected the punter. The first is simple convenience. One-time account creation on many of the websites online and then the world is your oyster. Easy simple procedures to place bets, user-friendly websites and all from the comfort of your own armchair. No need to walk to the bookmakers in the pouring rain or make last minute phone calls. Everything is there just a button away.

This has of course opened up the market to much more competition which has lead to better value for punters. Gone are the days of walking between local bookmakers or browsing lengthy Ceefax pages to compare odds. Now with the click of a button you can sample odds from a range of bookmakers to choose the best value. This of course means that the companies start to entice customers with better odds, bonuses and special bonuses. All playing into the hands of you…the punter. Never has there been such value on the markets.

In essence, the world of sport has been opened up to punters via the world wide web. No longer do you have to hold the bookmakers queue up by enquiring about a price on a random golfer in a tournament the other side of the world. The odds for any event can be seen with the click of a button regardless of whether it is a local racing meeting, an international soccer match or even events such as the Eurovision Song Contest…..anything you can think of you fancy a flutter on and somewhere on the internet there will be a bookmaker willing to take your wager. This has increased profits for punters, ensured your sporting expertise can be put to use and made watching hose obscure sports on late night TV Channels even more enjoyable.

As well as this the internet has allowed bookmakers to open up everything in each sport to bet on from the winning distances to the number of yellow cards in a match. In-play betting has transformed the industry and now millions of pounds are staked during games when punters can see the way things are developing.

Another development of the online world of gambling has been betting exchanges were rather than place odds on what you think is going to happen you can bet on what you think won’t happen! Laying bets instead of placing them has benefited punters all over the globe and it has taken off massively as the internet has grown. Don’t think the much fancied team? Make some money by laying the bet.

In essence therefore, the World Wide Web has opened up options for gambling, convenience and value for the punters and the betting industry and bookmakers in general have been forced to adapt and offer an better all round service to the punters.

 

 

2015 Football Power Rankings

Тhе fіnаl wееks оf thе Рrеmіеr Lеаguе sеаsоn рrеsеnt іntеrеstіng роwеr rаnkіngs thаt hоst а dіvеrsе sеt оf tеаms. Аrsеnаl hаs mаdе а run tо thе tор twо, Маnсhеstеr Unіtеd аrеn’t fаr bеhіnd аnd Lеісеstеr Сіtу аrе аbsоlutеlу flуіng tо trу аnd sаvе thеmsеlvеs frоm rеlеgаtіоn. Аll оf thаt mеаns thаt thе rаnkіngs оf роwеr аrе drаstісаllу сhаngіng соmраrеd tо рrеvіоus еstіmаtеs.

Тhе Football Роwеr Rаnkіngs tаkе іntо ассоunt thе strеngth оf sсhеdulе, іnјurіеs, susреnsіоns, рlауіng wеll but stіll lоsіng аnd рlеntу оf оthеr vаrіаblеs. Тhе W-D-L brасkеt shоws еасh РL tеаm’s сurrеnt rесоrd аnd уоu саn nоw sее hоw mаnу sроts еасh tеаm hаs mоvеd, uр оr dоwn, frоm wееk-tо-wееk.

  1. Аrsеnаl: Еіght wіns оn thе sріn іs thе Gunnеrs’ bеst run sіnсе 2004. Тhеу аrе flуіng аnd соuld fіnіsh sесоnd аnd wіn аn FА Сuр. Тhіs sееms lіkе а gооd sеаsоn. Нugе gаmе vs. Сhеlsеа оn 18 Арrіl. (20-6-6)
  2. Маnсhеstеr Unіtеd: Тhе tеаm dіd аn іmрrеssіvе јоb аnd hаndlеd іnјurіеs wеll. Ѕіх wіns frоm thеіr lаst sеvеn mеаns thеу wіll mоst рrоbаblу fіnіsh іn thе tор fоur. (19-8-6)
  3. Сhеlsеа: Моurіnhо lоvеs а dеfеnsіvе mаstеrсlаss аnd hе hаs сhurnеd оut fоur-strаіght wіns bу а оnе- gоаl mаrgіn wіthоut Dіеgо Соstа. Мауbе thеу wіll shоw thе Gunnеrs whісh tеаm rulеs Lоndоn. (23-7-2)
  4. Lіvеrрооl: Тwо іmроrtаnt dеfеаts іn thrее соnsесutіvе РL mаtсhеs аnd а dаmаgіng FА Сuр sеmіfіnаl dеfеаt tо Vіllа mеаns Lіvеrрооl’s sеаsоn іs еndіng wіth а whіmреr. Тhеіr tор fоur hореs аrе stіll аlіvе, but bаrеlу. (17-6-9)
  5. Lеісеstеr Сіtу: Аn unехресtеd соmіng uр tо thіs роsіtіоn fоr Lеісеstеr Сіtу. Тhе Fохеs аrе flуіng, hаvе wоn thrее-strаіght аnd аrе nоw wіthіn а роіnt оf gеttіng оut оf thе bоttоm thrее. Тhе bіggеst јumр іn а sіnglе wееk іn Роwеr Rаnkіng hіstоrу. (7-7-18)
  6. Еvеrtоn: Тhе Тоffееs hаvе fіnаllу fоund sоmе fоrm іn а sеаsоn tо fоrgеt. Маrtіnеz’ mеn аrе unbеаtеn іn fіvе аnd аrе оnе wіn frоm bеіng іn thе tор 10. (10-11-12)
  7. Тоttеnhаm Ноtsрur: Ѕрurs аrе сlіngіng оn tо thеіr tор fоur drеаms but аn іnсоnsіstеnt fеw wееks hаs соst Росhеttіnо’s mеn. Маssіvе gаmе аt Ѕаіnts аs thе Аrgеntіnе bоss hеаdеd bасk tо hіs оld сlub. (17-6- 10)
  8. Ѕоuthаmрtоn: Ѕаmе соuld bе sаіd fоr Ѕаіnts аs іnсоnsіstеnсу hаs сrерt іn. Тhеу јust саn’t sееm tо fіnd thеіr shооtіng bооts. Тhеу hаd multірlе сhаnсеs tо сlіmb аhеаd оf Ѕрurs іn thе rасе fоr thе Еurора Lеаguе. (17-5-11)
  9. Маnсhеstеr Сіtу: Ѕоmе оf thе dеfаts rеаllу tооk а hіt оn Реllеgrіnі. Сіtу аrе hоldіng оn but соuld stіll blоw іt. (19-7-7)
  10. Аstоn Vіllа: Ѕреаkіng оf Vіllа, thеу stunnеd Lіvеrрооl tо rеасh thе FА Сuр fіnаl but аll fосus must nоw swіtсh tо stауіng uр. Тhеу аrе fоur роіnts аbоvе thе drор zоnе wіth јust а fеw gаmеs lеft. (7-7-15)
  11. Ѕtоkе Сіtу: Тhе Роttеrs аrе gоіng fоr а rесоrd РL роіnts tаllу аnd tо bеttеr thеіr bеst-еvеr fіnіsh оf 10th lаst sеаsоn. (13-7-13)
  12. Сrуstаl Раlасе: Тhе Еаglеs wеrе flуіng untіl оld bоss Тоnу Рulіs сlірреd thеіr wіngs whеn hіs WВА sіdе саmе tо tоwn. Раrdеw іs stіll hарру wіth hіs sіdе thаt іs sаfе frоm rеlеgаtіоn. Іt іs dеbаtаblе whеthеr thеу fіnіsh іn thе tор 10. (11-9-13)
  13. Wеst Вrоm: Рulіs stееrеd thе Ваggіеs thrоugh а rоugh реrіоd tо bаg thаt bіg wіn аt hіs fоrmеr сlub. Тhеу shоuld bе sаfе fоr аnоthеr sеаsоn nоw. (9-9-15)
  14. Ѕwаnsеа Сіtу: Тhе Ѕwаns suffеrеd thеіr fіrst dеfеаt іn fіvе аt Lеісеstеr аnd mіssеd thе іnјurеd Gоmіs bаdlу. Ѕtіll, а fіnе sеаsоn fоr Моnk’s mеn. (13-8-12)
  15. Вurnlеу: Іf thеу соuld sсоrе gоаls, thеу’d bе flуіng but thе Сlаrеts dіd mоrе thаn 389 mіnutеs wіthоut hіttіng thе bасk оf thе nеt. (5-11-17)

Who do you think is the best football or soccer team playing right now?  Have you tried handicapping soccer on your own or do you need assistance from experts like the ones at  We want your picks and opinions for the remainder of the 2015 season on who you believe is the best football.

Increase in betting and casino sponsorship in football

In an increasingly digital world it is perhaps unsurprising that the betting industry has grown at such a rapid rate. With so many platforms that now facilitate gambling, such as mobile and computer, players are not restricted to how and when they want to bet.

This has resulted in over £40 billion being wagered on a wide variety of sporting events and casinos in 2014. The market is booming and extremely lucrative.

One thing that has not changed however is the most popular betting opportunity. Football. Attracting all ages, the chance to back your favourite club with hard earned cash provides a thrill almost like no other. Unsurprisingly, football clubs have clicked on, developing a commercial marketing strategy that mutual benefits all.

Clubs get a substantial boost by betting and casino sponsorship, whilst the sponsor get’s their product promoted in its most targeted setting. Fans also benefit by becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities provided by multimedia betting. They are also often given exclusive offers for joining their clubs betting partner.

So just how big has betting and casino sponsorship become in football? The world’s official richest club, Real Madrid, set the trend, signing up to Spanish bookmaker BWIN. In the subsequent years, BWIN’s client base trebled. Whether it is sports betting or casino games such as online pokies, you’ll be able to find it at sites sponsoring Premier League teams. If not, visit Pokies Palace for one of the best choices around.

Within the last few years ten Premier League clubs, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Stoke, Chelsea, Everton, Tottenham, Newcastle, Fulham and Liverpool, have all been sponsored by betting companies. This is all despite strict legislation from the Gambling Act which forbids advertisement of casinos and betting services that are not based with the EEA or are part of the Gambling Commission White List.

The success of these relationships has even resulted in football leagues being sponsored by betting and casino companies. The whole English league, for example, is promoted by SkyBet, whilst in the last few days the Scottish league announced a £4 million deal with Ladbrokes for rights of all levels of the professional Scottish leagues.

There have been major criticisms of this increasing trend. Some have questioned the morality of betting sponsorships, whilst others have blamed clubs for gambling addictions and other side effects of the activity. Strict legislations from the Gambling Act, as previously stated, have policed this well, however, and have protected players influenced too severely by the sponsorship.

As the football betting world continues to economically grow, there is no doubt that this type of sponsorship will become even more of a common trend, especially with the introduction of mobile gambling at sites such as Mobile Pokies Online.

How to make money betting on football

The football betting industry is a rapidly increasing business. Multimedia gambling opportunities, increased gaming sponsorships, and a greater range of markets available, now mean that football betting is a much enjoyed part of many people’s lives.

Financial losses are a natural cap on this enjoyment however. Critics of football gambling revel in stating that ‘the house always has the edge’ and ‘players will only gamble back their winnings.’ Whilst these two statements contain elements of truth, there is undoubtedly a way to minimise this ‘house edge’ and gamble in a disciplined, efficient manner.

The first, and most important, step for any football punter is a website called oddschecker. Oddschecker compares prices for every market of every match, giving punters an easy opportunity to always get the best odds. The useful site also includes details of all free bet offers and new account specials.

Understanding the best football betting markets is also incredibly important. The vast majority of losing gamblers are those who place numerous small staked accumulators. They predominantly feature a wide range of teams, from a random list of divisions. Bookmakers profit massively from this ‘Hollywood’ style of betting. Those more successful stick with singles and doubles, and usually these tend to be in the lower leagues rather than the Premier League.

It is also worth noting that bookmakers have the highest ‘house edge’ on goalscorer markets. They exploit gambler’s love of individual players, knowing they will back them no matter the odds. First, last, and anytime goalscorers are almost always priced up at odds that do not follow their statistical scoring records.

Any successful football punter will stress the importance of analysing statistics before gambling. Footballstats.co.uk and opta.co.uk are especially good websites crammed with detailed information of both team’s performances. Spending hours analysing statistics on all markets may not sound like fun, but it gives you the best chance to be profitable. After becoming accustomed to statistical betting you subconsciously become able to weigh up whether a bet represents good or bad value.

It is important to remember that betting on football usually has around a 10% margin built into it by online bookmakers. This is greater than the 5%-7% margin built in for slots and fruit machines at sites like Fruity Reels. Whilst many may disagree, statistically speaking you are likely to lose more money by betting on football than playing online fruit machines.

Finally, as previously mentioned it is essential to remain disciplined and efficient in your betting. By setting a limit each month of how much you are prepared to gamble, any potential net losses are instantly minimised. Efficiency can be measured through always taking the best odds, limiting selections to either a single or a double, and thoroughly researching before placing the bet. Oh and remember, bet with your head,, not your heart!